8th Grade Trip Reflections

The view of the ocean from a mountaintop on Catalina Island, CA

by Jessica Crawford, 8th Grade Co-Teacher

First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who bought cards, CLWS apparel, wreaths and greens, plants, and PIZZA! We really appreciate your support, as it made our wonderful, culminating class trip possible!

The 8th grade class trip is meant to offer the students one last time to be together in a special way, living close to nature for a time, perhaps pushed a bit out of their usual comfort zone to engage in new activities without the presence of their parents. It is a wonderful opportunity to reflect and remember, and to enjoy and appreciate their classmates before they head off to different high schools next year. Many of this year’s 8th graders have been together for 10 years or more!

On May 1st, We flew to Los Angeles and spent one afternoon and evening at Venice Beach and the Santa Monica Pier. Ms. Larson, the class’ first teacher (grades 1 and 2) met us on the beach in a romantic, run toward each other reunion. She accompanied us on the boardwalk, at dinner, and on the Ferris wheel and rollercoaster at the famous Santa Monica amusement park. That was a surprise treat for the class!

The next morning we took the Surfliner Amtrak train from iconic Union Station in LA to San Luis Obispo, where we headed to Camp Ocean Pines, located above the Pacific Ocean, near Cambria. We stayed there for 5 days, surfing, hiking, exploring tide pools, and learning about marine and coastal animals and plants (sea otters, sea lions, elephant seals, silver fox, ice plants, to name a few) with our expert guide, Kyle Sweasey, who Ms. Crawford met when she was mentoring teachers at Wishing Well School in nearby Los Osos. We spent an afternoon with the WWS 8th graders, climbing up and running down sand dunes at Hazard’s Canyon in Montana De Oro State Park, a few minutes’ drive from the school (lucky them!). The central coast of California is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been, and it was really special to introduce it to the class.

Next, we took the Surfliner train back to LA, and a ferry to Catalina Island, off the coast about an hour. Catalina Island has one little tourist town, Avalon, and is otherwise wild. The recent rains have turned all of the California coast and Channel islands emerald green, so it really looked like a jewel resting between the bright blue of the sky and ocean. We hiked, snorkeled, and kayaked, and enjoyed the clear water and plentiful fish, crabs, clams, octopus, sting rays, and sea hares.

And then we came home, tired, ready for the comforts of family and home, and enriched by the beauty and wonder of the California coast and 9 days of community with our class family. They seem closer as a group to me upon our return than they did when we left. They really see and appreciate one another as friends, and are savoring their last weeks together before graduation.

Again, thank you, CLWS community for making this experience possible!

Photos of the students on their trip to CA; hiking, bonfiring, working, and learning.

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