Parents,Students And Teachers Make Education Happen
Although it was not a school sponsored experience, during spring recess three members of Beach Channel High School, Ms. Margaretann Bianculli, Nijer Osbourne and I, went to Southern Utah to volunteer at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. What was to be a field trip for students, to associate classroom activities with the real world, became a life altering experience for two. Many extraordinary and spectacular events were experienced.
The southwest of our country, with its great distance of grassland and contrasting desert areas, is an amazing sight to behold.
We arrived at Best Friends where we were directed to the cafeteria and ate a vegetarian meal, which was a new experience for me. I had the opportunity to interview founders Faith, Michael Mountain, Gabriel and Francis Lewis. Best Friends is an independent, not-for-profit organization. They sell sanctuary products, hold fundraisers and are supported by sports and Hollywood superstars. Beach Channel Superstars raised several hundred dollars to support Best Friends' Guardian Angel Program. We presented the check on behalf of our fellow students to Michael Mountain. Best Friends' most recent rescue and what inspired our desire to visit were Michael Vick's dogs. We were not able to visit with these doges because they were still being acclimated to their new home at Best Friends.
Over the days of our volunteering, we worked with cats, dogs, horses, and potbelly pigs. I learned that the size of a horse doesn't measure its personality. They were tremendous in size, which made me feel a bit apprehensive about dealing with them. It was hard not to marvel at their beauty though.
The week brought us many surprises, not just at the sanctuary. For example, in Kanab, we managed to get into a Pioneer and Indian play. Kanab is where most of the old western films were made. We met Jackie Hamblin-Rife, a movie historian who was a stunt woman and movie double in older western films.
We visited Zion National Park with its mountains, waterfalls, and cool pools. The Coral Sand Dunes' sand was a sea of orange powder. Southern Utah is a geological wonder. Mr. Caruso, a rock cutter, cut an ugly gray rock with a diamond saw to expose a beautiful geode.
The customs of Southern Utah amazed us too. Tagging is legal there and not called graffiti. The graduating class tags a mountain side with their graduating year! Dinner in Orderville at a historical café called Souptown not only tasted good but was an interesting place to visit. Orderville was the last stand for the "Untied Order" which was a Mormon, communal life style during pioneer times. While in Orderville, we met several local high school students who took us into a "slot canyon" with their ATVs. We got to drive the ATVs and also sang karaoke. I felt
like a dork. Stargazing 5000 feet closer to the stars with no distracting background lights showed a dark sky with bright stars which are reversed in the Western sky. The Grand Canyon! The view of the Canyon is mind blowing!
Home is always a good place to come to after a vacation but we will always remember how we felt volunteering with animals, interviewing professionals at Best Friends and other professionals we met discussing how our class activities relate to the world of work. We will never forget the magnificent sights, and learning about the similarities and differences within our own country. Maybe next year the school will feel comfortable supporting us in this endeavor.
Darnell Parker is a resident of Redfern Houses who attends Beach Channel High School. This article discusses the experience of two students who were able to take the trip to Southern Utah. A total of 20 students raised money, decided how to spend the money and delegated two peers to make the trip on their behalf.