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DCSM middle schoolers combine travel, learning and service

On a coastal night wade, DCSM eighth-graders used cast nets to pull some marine life from the Gulf. They pulled sand crabs, hermit crabs and ghost crabs to take a closer look.

By Susan Helton; photos courtesy of Rebecca Jones

At the end of April and beginning of May, DCS Montessori (DCSM) seventh-grade and eighth-grade students traveled out of state for unique learning and service opportunities. The seventh-graders traveled to Yellowstone National Park, and the eighth-graders visited Crystal River and Clearwater, Florida.

In Yellowstone National Park, the seventh-graders visited the National Elk Preserve for learning experiences beyond the boundaries of classroom walls. The students observed the world’s largest elk herd, learned about biodiversity while hiking in the Teton National Forest, and hiked along Norris Basin, the most active thermal area in Yellowstone. Norris Basin treated them to various thermal features, including Grand Prismatic Springs, steam vents, mud pots, and mineral pools. The students also visited Hayden Valley – known as America’s Serengeti – where they looked closely at predator/prey behavior and observed a bison herd, wolves and elk.

The seventh-graders’ service work was at the Wolf and Grizzly Preserve, an organization dedicated to preserving those animals and their historic range as part of our national heritage. Ordinary citizens support this grassroots effort that promotes positive attitudes about wolves and grizzly bears, supports wildlife recovery in its historic range and is actively involved in projects that help support these conservation efforts. Here, because of very wet and cold weather, the seventh-graders helped with some clean-up and organization of the park facility.

In Crystal River, the eighth-graders visited the HOPE Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and learned about the rescue, rehabilitation and release of injured and orphaned Florida wildlife. The students swam and kayaked in King’s Bay, getting up close and personal with alligators, manatees, sea birds, fish and Florida locals. The students also learned about the 2,000 springs in the area, why the water is crystal clear, and explored Dame’s Caves (dry limestone sinkholes) to see some bats.

Castle Pines resident Patrick Mendonca plays with one of the children at Redlands Christian Migrant Association Day Care Center.

For their service work, the eighth-graders volunteered at the Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA) Day Care Center, a safe haven providing quality preschool, child care and education for the children of impoverished farm workers in South Florida. As gifts, the eighth-graders brought school supplies, art supplies, outdoor toys, office supplies and landscaping materials. The DCMS students played with the 3- and 4-year-old kids in their classrooms, participated in their pre-school lessons, cleaned and disinfected the facility, and helped with landscaping on the grounds. Rebecca Jones, assistant to the head of school at DCSM, accompanied the eighth-graders on their trip. She stated, “It was impossible to say goodbye, but we left with full hearts!”



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