|Pictured back row from left: Keiana Hamilton, Ximena Hernandez, Cheyenne Milner, Stephanie Wamble, Williams High School Principal Tristan Heisley and Stephen Boyack. Pictured front row from left: Williams High School teacher Jessica Heisley and Miranda Baldosky. Submitted photo|
WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Several local high school students recently returned from a spring break trip to Costa Rica, where they learned about the country's ecology, experienced a different culture and had fun.
Six students, Keiana Hamilton, Stephanie Wamble, Stephen Boyack, Miranda Baldosky, Ximena Hernandez and Cheyenne Milner, and three chaperones, Principal Tristan Heisley, science teacher Jessica Heisley and Connie Greedy went on the trip.
Their itinerary included visiting a natural park and biological reserve, seeing an active volcano, visiting a local school, kayaking, horseback riding and ziplining.
"They had a fantastic time," Jessica said. "There was something amazing every day that we were doing."
During the trip, the group took in Costa Rica's diverse plant and animal life. They saw sloths, howler monkeys, white-faced monkeys, macaws, iguanas and several different types of butterflies.
"So there was a lot of science and culture wrapped into this trip, which is one of the reasons I chose it," Jessica said.
"It wasn't just going around and doing fun stuff," he said. "There was always something educational linked into everything."
As one of the chaperones, Greedy said she was impressed with the way the Williams students conducted themselves on the trip. She said she received several "compliments about their maturity, respect for everything we saw and touched, their generosity."
The students all took away something different from the trip. One of the things that stuck out to Hamilton was how much people value the environment in Costa Rica.
"They teach their students the reuse, reduce and recycle thing and how their forests are a main big thing. They preserve everything," she said. "And you never really saw trash on the ground. Everywhere you go they have three trashcans, and one's for compost."
Wamble noticed that people in Costa Rica respected their culture.
"Like you would see dancers, and even though they didn't dance themselves, they would still be like, 'This is part of our culture, look at this, this is us,'" she said. "I thought that was really nice."
The cuisine of Costa Rica mostly included rice and beans, with a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables.
"At the supermarket there was a whole aisle of oil and rice, right next to each other," Baldosky said.
The Williams students also noticed a few major differences between how things work in the United States and Costa Rica. For example, the students observed that in Costa Rica the roads are very narrow and winding, hot water isn't readily available, and toilet paper must be placed in trashcans instead of flushed.
"So I think the kids came back with a really good perspective on how good we have it here," Tristan said.
Jessica said the trip was beneficial for the students because they gained a global perspective.
"It's great to get them out there and experiencing other cultures and the way other people live," Jessica said.
The Heisleys emphasized that the school did not pay for the trip. Students' families paid for the trip, as well as tax credit donations. They thanked everybody who donated tax credit money, Pizza Factory for donating pizzas to sell, and anyone else who contributed to trip fundraisers.