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RHMS students explore Costa Rica and help students in need

The RHMS Costa Rica enrichment group enjoying time exploring at Jaco Beach.

By Lynne Marsala Basche; photos courtesy of Clark Wilhelm

Rocky Heights Middle School (RHMS) offers an abundance of enrichment classes that meet once a week throughout a quarter or the school year.  One such enrichment class, the Costa Rica class, gave sixth through eighth-grade students a unique opportunity to travel and help other students in need.

Over an 18-week period and under the guidance of counselor Clark Wilhelm and foreign language/world cultures teacher Kay Kaul, students focused on how to travel internationally, researched destinations, learned about budgeting and currency conversion, and explored what it means to be a global citizen.

The eighth annual Costa Rica trip was a district-sponsored event, meaning the activities and program met the rigorous District standards for safety.  EF Tours coordinated the nine-day June trip, which included seven students, two parents, and two RHMS staff.  As part of the trip, EF Tours selected a needy school to receive school supply donations from the RHMS students.  This year’s chosen school, Las Cruces, is in the rural Monteverde region and has only 12 students in its kindergarten through sixth-grade school.  Las Cruces has been working with EF Tours for several years to become established and self-sufficient.  Donations have allowed the school to get two computers, add a roof to their outdoor seating area, paint their bathrooms, and add some playground equipment, as well as provide their students with basic school supply needs such as paper, pencils, scissors and calculators for the duration of the school year.

In total, the RHMS students donated more than $550 worth of supplies.  In appreciation, the Las Cruces students provided them with lively dancing and homemade jellies and jams using the local fruits of the country.

The group at the world-famous oxcart factory in front of a decorative wheel got to see carts being built, carved and painted.

In addition to visiting the school, the trip participants explored the rainforests, hiked volcanoes, zip lined through the jungle, visited a coffee plantation, and learned about local agriculture, including how Costa Rica’s leading export chocolate is made.

“Taking students to Costa Rica has allowed the four walls of our classroom to come to life,” said Kaul.  “Students step outside their comfort zone to try new things and demonstrate their skills they have learned in a new and exciting way.  Traveling internationally has helped these students become more confident, tolerant and open minded to really become global citizens.”

The RHMS next enrichment sessions for June 2017 are to Nicaragua and Costa Rica. 

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