At last night’s Board of Education meeting, the members heard brief presentations on two separate overseas trips being proposed by Wilton School District teachers. The trips–to Costa Rica and Paris–would be made available to Wilton High School students.

Costa Rica

After a successful first experience last summer, the WHS Science Department has proposed a return trip for approximately 18 students to Costa Rica during summer, 2020 (June 24-July 1, 2020). The main purpose of the trip would be for students to engage in the habitats and culture of that country.

During the trip, students will be immersed in three different habitats within the country. They will engage in real world science experiments being conducted by graduate students while using and improving their Spanish language skills. A goal of the program is for Wilton students to participate as “U.S. ambassadors” to Costa Rica and have a cross-cultural exchange with Costa Rican citizens.

Accompanying the students will be three adult chaperones. The approximate cost is $2,800 per student which includes round-trip airfare from New York City to San Jose, Costa Rica; transportation and hotel accommodations; and all meals.

During the week, students will take part in several planned activities:

  • A homestay with families in Sitio De Mata
  • A sugar cane farm excursion in search of local flora and fauna
  • Visit with university researchers studying bird migration
  • Aid in data collection on local freshwater ponds
  • Rafting down the Pacuare River
  • Discussion forum with a Big Cat researcher and learning to place camera traps to gather trail data
  • A homestay at an organic farm, learning to collect and prepare local foods
  • A visit to the Irazu volcano
  • A tour of historic San Jose

In the proposal, teachers Matthew Hoyt, Brett Amero, and Sarah Lewis referenced how students who participated in last summer’s Costa Rica trip found the trip to be a “life-changing experience.”

“This trip provided students with an unmatched cultural experience and immersion into rainforest science, where they utilized their science and language skills and engaged in cultural exchanges,” they write.

The teachers propose returning annually to Costa Rica, “…in order to enhance students’ learning by expanding the borders of the traditional classroom.”

Paris, France

Wilton French teachers Simon Bulenzi and Kimberly Cameron, and art teacher Sue LaBarbera have proposed a trip to Paris, to take approximately 30 students from July 7-July 14, 2020. They say the main purpose of the trip is to help Wilton High School students discover to the culture and history of France through a focus on art.

The opportunity would be open to all incoming 9th-12th graders.

According to the proposal, “Students will examine the role monuments play in Paris’ history as represented in such renowned and imposing examples as the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower; learn about Haussmann’s renovation of Paris in the mid-19th century and how it radically changed Parisian life; [and] gain a sense of life in court while viewing and touring the lavish palace and gardens of Versailles.

Among the activities planned are:

  1. Tour Paris with a guide
  2. Visit the Louvre museum
  3. Visit the top of the Arc de Triomphe
  4. Visit the Eiffel Tower
  5. Visit Napoleon’s final resting place at Les Invalides
  6. Visit Sacré-Coeur and sketch the view from Montmartre
  7. Visit the Fragonard Perfume Museum
  8. Visit the Château de Versailles and take a Versailles bike tour
  9. Visit Notre Dame
  10. Visit the Atelier des Lumiѐres
  11. Attend a French play with English subtitles
  12. Go on a guided Sweet Paris culinary walking tour around the St. Germain neighborhood

Some of the cultural experiences described in the itinerary include:

  • Dine in small groups in the homes of local Parisians
  • “Paint Paris Neighborhood Tour”:  Discover a corner of Paris like the artists it inspires, painting its sights and buildings with expert instruction as you learn their history
  • Pétanque Lesson:  Join a pétanque expert for a lesson in this classic French pastime
  • Tour along the Grand Canal and around Versailles’ expansive grounds by bike.
  • Take a French Cooking Lesson, and prepare dishes traditional to French cuisine.

Accompanying the students will be three adult chaperones. The approximate cost is $2,800 per student which includes round-trip airfare from New York City to San Jose, Costa Rica; transportation and hotel accommodations; and all meals.

Teachers have planned for four adult chaperones–two female chaperones and two male chaperones, including two French teachers. The approximate cost is $4,100 per student which includes round-trip airfare from JFK airport to Paris; transportation within France and hotel accommodations; most meals (breakfast and dinner every day); and tour guides and tips.

The Board of Education is set to discuss and approve the trips at its next meeting.