Friday, February 10, 2012

Day 5 - Bush Garden Tampa 2/18/12

Can you believe it? It’s our last day. Already! I guess it’s true that time flies when you are having fun.

With about an hour and a half drive to Busch Gardens in Tampa, we had to get up at 5:30am. Everyone did an excellent job of getting them selves ready, packed and left their rooms nice and clean in. MK, Lexi, Hailey and Cheyenne went the extra mile and won the room competition by leaving nice personal notes for the hotel maid.

Bus Rides = nap time. Not just for Mr. Hutton (this makes #6). Mrs. Nicholas and Mrs. Rhodes decided to catch some Zzzzzzz as well. All the late nights and fun filled and active days must be catching up to us.

At Busch Gardens, the park educators – Kara, Kristin, and Megan greeted us at the entrance and very quickly began our 90 minutes educational program. First we boarded the safari trucks and drove out to visit the Giraffes. Everyone got the opportunity to feed the Giraffes, touch them and some of us even placed the lettuce on our heads and had the Giraffes eat it. Nice hair gel!

Next, we learned about hippos, crocodiles, hyenas, lions, and mere cats. We also learned how to identify animals as herbivores, carnivores or omnivores by looking at their teeth, nasal cavities, eye and ear sockets. It’s really cool how a skull can tell you if an animal is a predator or prey, if they are nocturnal or not and what they eat.

As we scattered to explore the rest of the park in small groups, all the adults got the opportunity to visit with a few other “critters” from the educational department. We fed the flamingos, petted a two-toed sloth, heard Rainbow (the parrot) talk and cough and we also got to see them operate on a wild falcon who had a wing injury.

Lunch and roller coaster followed next. Busch Garden has many really great coasters – The Cheetah Hunt, Shekra (with a 90 degree drop), Montoo, and several others. Some of us shopped and also visited some of the other animal exhibits.

4 pm rolled around and it was time to head off to the airport. Kristin reflected on our week during the bus ride by having us close our eyes and think back to each day and what we had done. This was such a nice way to end our fantastic trip.

Checking went well and after getting dinner, it was time to board the plane. Naps anyone? Surprisingly no one fell asleep during the airplane ride. The bus ride back to Broadway was a different story though. Despite the malfunctioning heating and cooling system on the bus, most of us decided it was time to rest. Mr. Hutton’s nap total – 7.

Parents met us at Hillyard as we arrived around midnight. Sunday will be a good day for us to rest up and maybe if we are lucky we will get a much anticipated and needed snow day on Monday.

Day 4 - Sea World 2/17/12

Sleeping in this morning was wonderful. We all needed a good nights sleep in order to catch up and feel a little bit rested. No time for naps today, as it only took 5 minutes to get to and from Sea World and the day was packed full with exciting activities.

At Sea World we were met by our educator Angela, who became our personal guide to the park for the day. After a quick introduction, we walked to the behind the scenes shark encounter. Angela, who is a shark expert, told us so many interesting and important things about sharks. Did you know that there are over 400 different species of sharks and that more people die from skiing than from shark attacks? Neither did many of us. All students had a chance to touch a White Spotted Bamboo Shark before we moved on to the shark tunnel. From there, we walked across the park to the classroom building for our skull identification lesson. We learned that Dolphins only look like they smile because they are getting rid of the salt water they got in their mouth when catching fish.

The Shamu Killer Whale show was spectacular. A large group of our students decided to go sit in the splash zone and needless to say they got very, very, very,
wet. This really did not matter as it began raining a little and continued throughout the afternoon and evening. By now everyone decided it was time for lunch.

Seals and Sea Lions were next on our agenda. John, the dominant male Sea Lion, was trying to establish his territory and was as usual very vocal. Sea Lions are very vocal and social animals with outer ears, whereas Seals do not have outer ears and tend to not communicate much with each other vocally.

Seamore and Clyde, the two Sea Lions in the show we watched, demonstrated how trainable they are. They actually seamed like they enjoyed the attention. The giant Walrus that came out on stage at the end also belongs to the pinniped family along with the Seals and Sea Lions. They all have feathered tail flippers.

Our final stop and behind the scenes visits took place in the rescue area. Angie explained all about the rescue center, the surgical room, the “ambulance” and the difference between a beached animal (dead) and a stranded animal (alive). We were introduced to some older rescued sea turtles, a whale with scoliosis, three rescued manatees and a few dolphins on vacation. Angie explained that most of the rescue animals would be returned to their natural habitat once they recuperate, but some like the blind sea turtles will never be returned.

As 4 pm approached, free time also approached. Cracken, Manta and the water ride had been heavily anticipated, but due to the weather kept having technical difficulties. Despite this some of our students rode these rides more than once, more than twice, more than three times. Luke claims he rode the water ride 7 times. I guess it does not matter how wet you got since it was raining already.

We returned to the hotel around 7:20pm. After a recap of the day and some journal work, students cold play in the pool until it was time to go pack and get ready for our last day. OUR LAST DAY? Where has the time gone? It’s hard to believe our last day is tomorrow.

Day 2 - Magic Kingdom 2/15/12

After a quick but good breakfast our bus took us straight to Magic Kingdom where we were met by the Disney Y.E.S. program Educators. We divided into smaller groups of 12-14 each and began our educational program in the park. On the Monorail ride over to the park our educators Christopher and Ryan discussed inertia and Newton’s’ 1st law of motion with us, as well as the Scientific Method (O HERC).

Entering the park was a breeze at 7:30 in the morning with only a few other visitors present. We had a group picture in front of Cinderella’s Castle before going to “Space Mountain” to learn and personally experience potential and kinetic force and understand the physics of motion. Riding the roller coaster with the lights on was a totally different experience from riding with the lights off and our group’s hypothesis and other observations varied between the two times. It was so much fun!!!!

At “Splash Mountain” we all got a little bit wet when we experienced the 11 minute ride. We learned how to use indirect measuring by using a perfect square and a few other tools and used our math and graphing skills to figure out the height of the mountain. While we were working our problems some of the Country Bear Jamboree characters came by and later Matt and Spencer joined in some Hokie-Pokie dancing and line dancing.

Animatronics was our next topic. The ride the “Pirates of Caribbean” had many great examples of pneumatic (2 movements) and hydraulic (more than 2 movements and much smoother) movements of the characters.

The “Haunted Mansion” was our final ride before lunch. After lunch some of the group wanted to ride “Splash Mountain” for a second time, while others rested or shopped a little. On our way over to Tomorrow Land for the Buzz Light Year ride, we stopped to watch the tail end of the parade in front of the castle. Check out the picture of Mrs. Nicholas (so very focused) and Mr. Hutton as they aimed at their targets. Among the adults, Kristin - our program leader - won big time with 441,400 points, Mr. Hutton had 128,900, Mrs. Rhodes 128,800 and Mrs. Nicholas despite that awesome aim only scored 31,300.

NEXT we headed over to Hollywood studios where a much deserved and anticipated free time began. “Tower of Terror”, “The Rocking Rollercoaster”. “Star Tours”, stunt shows, shopping and more were enjoyed by everyone. Some, like Timmy rode the “tower of Terror” 7 times. Others, like Luke, Megan and Justin relaxed by the pond and visited with the ducks.

Our evening ended with the spectacular light and fireworks show “Fantasmic”.

Safely back at the hotel, lights out at 10pm so we all will be rested for another super day tomorrow.

P.S. Due to no down time at all, Mr. Hutton did not get a chance to take a nap today.
Better luck tomorrow.

Day 1 - EPCOT 2/14/12

Why is it that you can’t sleep when you really need to? I guess it was the excitement of going to Florida for our 2012 World Strides trip that keep many of us awake or somewhat sleepless the night before Valentine’s day.

Our bus met us at JFH at 3:45 this am, after already having picked up the 24 students and 4 chaperons from Elkton. We pulled out 5 minutes early and had a very uneventful bus ride to Dulles airport. Mr. Hutton took his first nap.

Checking in went extremely fast and smooth and no one was detained in security.

Phew!!!! We actually had more than 90 minutes to enjoy breakfast and relax before boarding the plane. While on the plane, Mr. Hutton took his second nap (see picture).

Kristen our WS group leader met us as we arrived in sunny and warm (80 degree) Orlando. After changing and repacking, we boarded the bus that took us straight to EPCOT. A quick group pictures to style our awesome JFHMS WS t-shirts and off we were to The Land for lunch. Yum – we were all very hungry.

With renewed energy, the itinerary for the day began with an interesting ride (The Land) explaining and teaching us about how we as humans have lived off the land for centuries, but need to and are developing ways to live with the land to maximize food production at the same time as we conserve and take care of our precious land.

Before moving on we made a stop to taste sodas made by Coca Cola and sold in other countries. The "Beverly" from Italy certainly made an impression on many.

In the “Universe of Energy” we were taken back to visit with dinosaurs. Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Nye the Science Guy taught us all about fossil fuels and alternative energy resources such as fission, fusion, wind power, solar power and hydro and geothermal power.

“Mission Space”, “Fast Track” and “Soarin” were other popular rides most of us had a chance to experience throughout the afternoon and evening. Dinner was on our own in smaller groups and the adult decided to visit France for their meal. Students visited other countries in the World Showcase as they enjoyed some free time.

The evening ended with a spectacular fireworks show around the World Showcase.

It has been a long but amazing day. Our students have been wonderful. They are tired and most could not wait to get to bed. As their chaperons we are very proud of how well they behaved and how well they represented themselves and our school.

We could not have asked for a better start to the trip.

Day 3 - Swimming with the Manatees and Snorkeling 2/16/12

Wow!!!! This has been such an EXCTING day in more ways than any one could have ever imagined. Where to begin? Hmmm!!!!

After only 4-5 hours or so of sleep, the wake up call got us up at 4:30 am for our morning with the Manatees. A bagged breakfast waited for us in the breakfast area consisting of a muffin, a bagel, cereal and juice. We boarded the bus and departed for Crystal Springs just a little after 5 am. Mr. Hutton did not waste any time and by 5:20am he had already began his third nap of the trip. Most of us actually decided to take a nap and take advantage of the hour and a half ride in the dark.

Dude, Shawn and the Gang at the American Pro Dive Shop were ready for us as we pulled in the parking lot and everyone quickly got suited up in their wetsuits, fins and masks. After a short bus ride to the dock, the group was split up onto 3 different boats. We got ourselves situated and headed out to the manatee sanctuaries. It did not take us long to find the PERFECT spot to anchor and begin our manatee encounter. This was, according to Kristin, “one of the best encounters” she has ever had while out with a group. There were so many manatees. They were playful, approachable, willing to be touched and stayed closed to the surface. Everyone got to see, interact, and touch the manatees several times. The picture opportunities were many and great.

Back on land we learned that the belt to the AC in the bus had broke and we would have to deal with no “air” for awhile. Eric, our super bus driver, got on the phone and by the afternoon had new belts installed and the AC back in working order again.
Mr. Hutton took his second nap of the day and # four for the trip.

After watching the video at the Pro shop of our Manatee experience, we drove 30 minutes to Rainbow River for our river float. Lunch from Quizno’s hit the spot and was enjoyed by all before actually beginning the second activity of the day. The boats took us up the river about a mile, we got in and began floating and snorkeling down the river. With the clear water we were able to see everything. The eel grass, the fish, the sand and the bottom, even if it was 15 or more feet deep. There were opportunities to free dive, to explore and look for fossils. We got to see the Logger Head turtle and the Yellow Belly Slider Turtle, as there were plenty of them around.

As we traveled to our final activity for the day that took place at the Homosassa State Park, Mr. Hutton managed to fit in his fifth nap on this trip so far. At the park we participated in a fun scavenger hunt as we walked around and learned about the many different species of animals that can be found in Florida including Alligators, Flamingos, Red Wolfs, Barn Owls, and many, many more.

Dinner at Golden Corral was a hit with all. Eating as much as you want always works with a bunch of hungry teenagers. We watched a movie “Bee’s” and worked on our WS journals to help occupy the time it took to get back to the hotel. Surprise – Mr. Hutton did NOT take another nap making the total count as of now five.

Back at the hotel we had pool time BUT no sooner had everyone got out to the pool and began having fun, when the fire alarm went off. Everyone had to evacuate. Fortunately it was not serious and we were able to return to our rooms – no pool – fairly soon. Someone had cooked something too long in the microwave on the 4th floor, which caused the alarm to go off. At least we know it works and the hotel is well prepared to handle this kind of situation.

We all agree that it’s been a super great day and that we need a good nights sleep.
Tomorrow is Sea World Day, located only 5 minutes from the hotel. We get to sleep in until 8 am. How great is that?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Longaberger Basket/Vera Bradely Bingo and Silent Auction

Wow! We had a packed house. For the first time the bingo and silent auction was held at the Bridgewater Church of the Brethren, where we had access to their large social hall, greeting area and kitchen. By the first game we had sold out and there was no more room on our tables for silent auction items. The event was a huge success as we profited close to $5000. Great job everyone.

Chicken BBQ Fundraiser 2011

As in the past 2 years, one of our first fundraisers was the Chicken BBQ. With the help of many students, parents and Mr. Rhodes (Mrs. Rhodes' dad) we BBQ over 600 halves of chicken and had them all sold by noon. Unfortunately the weather was not quite with us, as it rained a bit while we were selling.