Two dozen Lincoln-Way High School District 210 students travelled to South America this month where they practiced their Spanish-speaking skills on locals, visited an international school and learned about the conservation of marine resources as well as the power of the earth's gravitational pull at the Equator.
“This trip was special,” said Spanish teacher Linda Egnatz who accompanied the students to Ecuador and its Galapagos Islands with Lincoln-Way North science teachers Camille Gonzalez-Jensen, Elizabeth Conroy and Peggy Piper.
“In addition to hearing our students actively use their Spanish, we were able to see science lessons -- from biology to ecology and geology to meteorology -- come to life in an outdoor classroom,” she added. “I learned as much as the students.”
The group departed April 6 and spent their entire spring break walking alongside giant turtles, exploring lava tunnels in Santa Cruz, snorkeling off Puerto Villamil beach with sea lions, scrutinizing marine iguanas and Galapagos penguins on Isabela Island, and visiting the Wall of Tears (a former Penal Colony).
They also spent a day hiking at Cotopaxi Volcano National Park, bargained for souvenirs in Otavalo (one of South America's largest artisan markets) and participated in a community service project in Quitugo.
“Students worked with community members to prep and paint walls in a kindergarten at the community center,” said Egnatz.
They also created foam decorations for the walls and presented community members with an assortment of children’s school supplies that they collected at home and delivered to Quitugo personally.
Students also presented the people of Quitugo with stickers and pins from Shedd Aquarium and a Galileo telescope that was donated as part of a global project to put a telescope in the hands of children.
Lincoln-Way students have traveled to a number of countries through the years, including Spain, Italy, Costa Rica, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, France and Germany.
Next year they will have an opportunity to travel to France and Italy where they will explore a number of art museums, including the Louvre and Prado.
“It is always my thrill and privilege to introduce our students to the cultures beyond our borders,” said Egnatz.
“My goal is to help students visualize language study as a compliment to their future career goals and a door-opener to greater opportunities and salary possibilities,” she added.
Students who took the trip to South America were: Nicholas Bielanski, Madeline Brekke, Samantha Fowler, Abigail Gaza, Tori Gutkin, Christopher Harrison, Jordan Jackovich, Joelle King, Steve Kurina, Melissa Misiaszek, Brandon Nowakowski, Nicole Stepuszek, Nicolette Wagner, Megan Wortel, Carolyn Aiello, Kevin Duffin, Dana Franceschini, Jonathan Junkroski, Jessica Kraut, David Purucker, Jimmy von Albade, Paige Annolino, Kristine Kozak and Amber Stuckly.