RCHS teacher, students gearing up for spring break trip to Spain

REED CITY — Anticipation is growing for a small group of Reed City High School students who will spend spring break away from home.

RCHS Spanish teacher Katrina Wray and seven students will begin their trek of more than 4,000 miles to Barcelona, Spain, on Friday, March 24, with anticipated stops in Valencia, Málaga and Gibraltar throughout the 11-day trip.

"I'm getting very excited," the teacher said. "The students are very excited."

The trip, through Education First, is designed to show the students how they are a global citizen, Wray said.

"They will get to experience a different culture than their own," she said. "They will get a global perspective about how the world works in a sense. We'll be breaking down barriers of how we think people in Spain live and see for ourselves."

The trip will take the students throughout different parts of Spain and they will get to experience life in several cities, Wray said.

"We've been working on our Spanish; the students pretending to order food and I am the waitress," she said. "That's a real-life experience and something these kids will get to do for the first time."

The students, Wray said, have started to ask more and more questions about the trip and activities as Friday approaches.

"There's a sense of excitement about a lot of different things from the students," she said. "Some are scared about the food, as they know it will be different than what they are used to eating."

Once in Spain, the small group from Reed City will join groups from two schools in Colorado, which are led by two French teachers for stops throughout the country, Wray said.

"It will be an experience for our students, as half of the students from Colorado speak native Spanish," she said. "The students will start learning even when they're on the bus from people from a different area in our own country."

The students are anxious for the trip.

Junior Mickayla Tupper expects to experience a little culture shock when the group arrives in Spain.

"I'll get to experience a different culture and see how different it is over there to here," she said. "I'll get to experience what they are doing on a daily basis."

Jade Ebels said the only expectation she has about the trip to Spain is having a lot of fun.

"I expect to take a lot of pictures," she said. "I'm excited to try the food and everything I can."

Duey Smith said he's most excited to see the sights.

"We'll get to to see everything that we wouldn't get to see here," he said, saying he is most looking forward to seeing the Mosque of Granada.

Fellow Spanish student Catherine Kettner is looking forward to seeing what the mall is like, while making sure she has her phone ready to take as many photos as she can.

"I'll be excited every day we're there," she said. "I want to how many things can be done."

While Kettner has lived in Holland and has traveled to Germany and Paris, Tupper, Ebels and Smith have not traveled overseas.

Wray said providing the chance for students to see and experience Spain and Europe is exciting for her.

"There's been kind of a buzz around school, with some students asking when they can be part of a trip," she said. "For some of our students, this is a trip of a lifetime."

Wray said there hasn't been an international trip for RCHS students in more than a decade.

"I didn't know if we could swing it in Reed City, as it is a smaller school," she said. "When I spoke with other educators from schools like Newaygo and Evart, and they take trips like this, I felt it was something possible to offer to our students."

Wray hosted a parent and student meeting in spring 2016 to answer any questions.

“Safety was one of the first thing parents asked about,” she said. "EF is really good about keeping us informed about the trip. They've been really great to work with."

To help pay for the trip, Wray said the students were quite successful in selling Krispy Kreme donuts and hosted a car wash.

"The fundraisers really helped," she said. "This came down to the fundraisers and their parents. We're all very grateful for them helping make this trip happen."

Wray added the trip wouldn't take place without the support of the high school, school board and district administration.

To help prepare her for the trip, Wray attended a professional development in October in Berlin for first-time educational trip leaders.

"I learned a lot in Germany, the differences between some things here and the European lifestyle," she said.

One example she gave is eating at a restaurant.

"In our area, if we go to the restaurant and finish our food, we immediately expect to have our check given to us by our waiter," she said. "They want us to go so they can have more customers. In Europe, you ask for your check when you are done. They want you to enjoy your meal and take your time."

Wray said her time in Germany was spent being outside as much as possible.

"I was outside every day seeing as much as I could," she said.

Wray isn't sure if another trip overseas will happen next year, but would like to see something offered to RCHS students.

"When we get back, we'll have a good idea about how the trip went and we'll see if we want to do another trip," she said. "We have a really good group of students who are going to have a really good time. I hope it inspires them in the future to expand their horizons."