When it comes to environmental science, most middle school science programs put together science fair boards or start a recycling program. This wasn’t enough for the students of Jefferson Academy. This spring break, our local middle school will send 10 to 15 students to Costa Rica to gain a deeper understanding of the interactions between humans and the environment by studying the rainforest firsthand.

On the international trip, students will study wildlife and culture as they take trips to San Jose, Mount Arenal National Park, the Sarapiqui Rain Forest, Manuel Antonio National Park and the La Paz Waterfall Gardens. While in Costa Rica, students will stay in dorms and take day trips with a local guide to each location. Students who attend the trip will be required to complete research prior to the trip and share their experiences upon their return.

Assistant Principal Patrick Rottman is thrilled that the students will have this opportunity and is working to ensure the trip is available to as many students as possible. “A trip like this represents a considerable investment for many of our families and the school is working hard to reduce the cost through fundraising and support from local businesses. We’re still seeking donations and support and I encourage any interested parties to reach out to the school and myself. The school is committed to opening this trip to as many students as possible and community support is essential,” Rottman said.

This will be Jefferson Academy’s first international trip and represents the school’s efforts to promote a globally aware student body. The school is currently developing its International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program, which encourages broadening student learning through cross-curricular education, project-based learning and a focus on the world outside the classroom. For many students, this will be their first trip outside the United States. The school hopes this trip will become a yearly tradition and will grow in participation each year.

“We’re excited to get students out of their comfort zone,” said Marissa Alberty, Spanish teacher. “I love to travel and plan to share this love with our students. I am hopeful this trip will inspire our students to take a life-long interest in their environment as there is no substitute to witnessing the balance of nature firsthand, which can be hard to do in the middle of a large metropolitan area”.

Taking a group of middle school students on an international trip is no small feat. School officials are busy helping families with passports, paperwork, and fundraising. Jefferson Academy has received a great deal of support from local businesses, community members, and friends of the school. However, the school is still looking for scholarship and material support.

If you would like contribute to the trip or fundraising efforts please contact assistant principal Patrick Rottman at Patrick.Rottman@dc.gov.

By Patrick Rottman, assistant principal at Jefferson Academy.

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