For the first time, the Pacific Coast Alternate School is travelling abroad.
This spring break, five students are going Costa Rica where they will continue to strengthen their Spanish for 10 days.
School principal, Jeremy Janz, said it was the students’ idea. They were in a Spanish class and the students said to him, “We should go somewhere we can speak Spanish.” So he looked into it and made it happen.
“One of the biggest things for me was that being an alternate school I wanted it to be accessible, right? And in particular, I didn’t want somebody’s economic position or economic standing or social position and standing to get in the way of experiencing something if they had, sort of, put in the work and put in the effort to do it,” Janz said.
The alternate school started in 2007 for students who need more flexibility and one-on-one learning to graduate. At first, classes were based out of the Friendship House, and the school has since moved into the Ocean Centre Mall.
To lower the costs of the trip the school is fundraising on GoFundMe, students are selling sustainable chocolates, and a few businesses, Northern Savings Credit Union and Ridley Terminals Inc., have already pitched in.
For students at the alternate school, learning more about Costa Rica and Spanish in the classroom before their trip is enriching their high school experience.
“It’s got me so much more excited to come here early in the mornings,” said Kennedi Sampson, Grade 12.
This will be Sampson’s first trip outside of B.C. She wants to be a baker, and she hopes to learn more about their cultural desserts — that and finding a fresh coconut and drinking right from it.
Todd Barton, Grade 11, has never travelled outside the province either, and wants to learn more about a new culture, and how others live.
“We aren’t exactly living in luxury here, but I feel like there, it’s like we would be living in luxury,” Barton said.
He’s looking forward to taking in Costa Rica’s scenery, the beaches, mountains and trees.
Janz is looking into creating a travel vlog with the students. They’ve already produced two videos on the upcoming school trip.
“We really want to make it a learning experience,” he said. “I think with Prince Rupert wanting to internationalize itself and become more of an international sort of hub, especially with the port and everything, I think it’s very important that we give our students international experience.”