RIMERSBURG – With the school year ending and students of all ages enjoying field trips through out the region, one local group of students is poised for a trip of a lifetime.
Thirteen members of the Union High School Travel Club have worked for nearly two years to raise the money and make plans for their upcoming 12-day journey to Spain and Italy.
“We have been planning this trip for almost two years,” Travel Club advisor Julie Parks said. “When we started out, I didn’t know if we would be able to reach our goal.”
Parks taught Spanish at Union up until the end of the last school year, but stuck with the Travel Club trip this year even though she is now teaching English at West Shamokin High School. She said she wanted to see the effort through, and the school district was great in allowing her to stay involved.
When planning began, Parks said it seems doubtful they would be able to raise enough money to send the minimum number of seven students overseas. Two years later, she said she is amazed that 13 students will be making the trip.
“These kids have been working really hard,” she said. “They have raised a lot of money.”
Parks said the students took part in one to two fundraisers every month for the last year and a half to reach their goals. She said they have sold everything from baked goods, to pizzas, donuts, flowers, magazines, school apparel and much more. The club members operated the concession stand for track and baseball games, and during volleyball tournaments. They also sought donations outside of local stores, and sponsored a bus trip to New York City earlier this year.
“They have raised tens of thousands of dollars,” she said, noting that some of the funding for the trip came from individual donations and the students’ families.
As for the trip itself, the students will make the journey with Parks and UHS teacher Nicole Claypoole, leaving for Madrid, Spain on June 11. The group will have a 24-hour-a-day tour guide throughout the trip, which was arranged through an educational tour company.
In Madrid, the students will visit Plaza Mayor, the Market of San Miguel, Prado and the Royal Palace. They then travel to Barcelona, Spain where they will visit La Sagrada Familia, Las Ramblas and the Gothic Quarter.
The students will then take an overnight ferry to Rome, Italy. While there, they will visit the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel, the Catacombs, St. Peter’s Basilica, Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and the ruins of Pompeii.
It will be the first time in Europe for all of the students, Parks said, and the first time out of the United States for the majority.
Parks said that she was bitten by the travel bug while in college, and knew that when she became a teacher, she wanted to give those opportunities to her students. She said she feels it is very important to expose students to different cultures so they can learn how other people live.
After all the planning, fundraising and monthly meetings, Parks said she’s excited to finally be ready to make the trip with the students.
“I’m just in awe of the support from the school and the parents,” she said, expressing her appreciation to the school district, school board and the students’ families for supporting a trip that will leave lasting memories for all involved.