Sunday, February 20, 2011

Saturday 2/19/11: Busch Garden's Tampa Bay

Our last day! Wow these five days have really gone by fast. I guess that’s what happens when you are having fun. And boy have we had fun. Today was no exception.

As we arrived at Busch Garden’s Tampa, all you could see was a sea of yellow – each and every one of our students were wearing their new Busch Garden’s Adventure Camp Shirts. We had been asked to be part of a photo/video shoot (for a commercial and some other promotional materials) for their summer Adventure Camps. Everyone was very excited and very willingly smiled as the camera and participated in all the activities.

Our first educational experience of the day took us out on the Serengeti, where we visited with Bittiti a female giraffe who loved it when we offered her an early afternoon snack of lots of lettuce. Did you know that each giraffe has their ownunique pattern, just like we have our own unique fingerprints. We also learned the 40-40-40 rules about Ostriches. It takes 40 days for the egg to hatch, they can run 40 mph and they can live to be 40 years old. An Ostrich egg can also hold up to 400 lbs of pressure. At our next stop we got to meet Atlas a Serval – small Cheetah looking cat that can grow to be 30-40 lbs. They are great jumpers and camouflage really well.

Our third and final activity with the educators taught us all about biometrics.

Each group of 4 students was given a different animal skull and by looking at the eye sockets, the ear sockets the nasal passage and the type of teeth the animal had they had to figure out if it was an omnivore, a carnivore or an herbivore. Finally they had to identify which animal. Everyone did really well.

The rest of the day was “free time” spent exploring the park. Busch Gardens has done a wonderful job of mixing animals from Africa, Australia and some other parts of the world, with many fun exciting rides like Shekra and Mantue. Most of our students decided to ride roller coasters, while others (mostly the adults) went to a show with incredible acrobatics and fun effects. There was also time for many to visit the Kangaroos, Gorillas, Tigers, Lions, Alligators, Flamingos and many other amazing animals.

We took one final group picture before getting on the bus to the airport. Checking in took a little while and only gave us about 20 minutes to get dinner (which most of us ate on the plane) before it was time to board our first flight. Many wondered what in the world the adults were up to, as they would not stop laughing during the entire flight. Being overly tired and very happy that we had had such a great week suddenly made everything funny.

We landed at Reagan around 10:20pm and began the final leg of our trip right around 11:10pm. Mike our bus driver got us safely to Hillyard by 1:15 am where students were meet by their parents. Happy and tired - what better way to end this amazing week.

Mrs. Rhodes and Mrs. Nicholas would like to thank each and every one of you for making this trip as great as it was. Thank you students for wanting to go, for wanting to learn and for making this your very special experience. Thank you parents, grandparents and other family members and friends for helping with fundraising and supporting students and chaperons as the prepared for and took the trip. Thank you to our fantastic chaperons – Mr. Baker our assistant principal, Mrs. Bostic and Mrs. Brunk. They did a super job making it so much easier for us teachers during the trip. THANK YOU!!!!!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday 2/18/11 - Swimming with the Manatees and Floating down the Rainbow River

Our wake up call came at 4:30am – so early – but amazingly everyone was up and ready to go when the chaperons came around to check on each room and deliver cell phones. Breakfast bags were waiting for us in the Lobby, as it was too early for the hotels continental breakfast bar. The bus pulled out at 5:30am and some of us decided to take advantage of the hour and a half drive by taking an early morning nap. Others too awake had social time and enjoyed each other’s company.

Shawn from American Pro Dive met us as we pulled in to the parking lot and took us into their classroom to watch a safety video about Manatees – what to do and not to do. Then it was time to suit up – wet suits, flippers, goggles and snorkels for all. A short trip on the bus down to the docks and then we got to board the pontoon boats.

Our guides Shawn, Rick and Zack began the search for Manatees and it was really a true search. With the weather getting warmer, the Manatees have begun to move out of the Kings Bay Crystal River and its sanctuaries. There were Manatees in some of these sanctuaries that we could observe but not swim with. Instead of waiting for these gentle giants to come out to “see” us we headed up the river to a few other little spring outlets and we were in luck. Maybe not with the numbers but we did have the opportunity to get in the water twice each time with a different Manatee. The first time we all observed a pregnant female from about 5 ft away. She was not too keen on us interacting with her and decided to leave. Next we found a male manatee at about 2000 lbs, who was very willing let us both observe him and give him a gentle scratch on the back and several belly rubs.

With the water being around 70 degrees, getting out of the water and taking off our wet suits was not too bad. Despite the warm temperatures and the sun shine the hot coco tasted great. Back at the dive shop we watched the DVD that Shawn took during our encounter. Sooooo Cool! Many of us did some shopping of various Manatee souvenirs.

Next we drove 30 minutes further north (inland) to the Rainbow River and K P Hole State Park. Yummy packed lunches were handed to us as we got off the bus and it felt great sitting in the sun and eating. While we had lunch we took the opportunity to dry our towels and wet suits a little. Not that it made much of a difference as we got ready shortly thereafter to put them back on again.

Snorkeling and floating down this clear river turned out to be the best activity so far for many of our students. As we gradually floated down the river with the help of the current we observed birds, fish, turtles and other wildlife and also dove to the bottom at several places looking for fossils – coral, shells, sharks teeth and petrified wood.

Back at the hotel we had pizza, pasta and salad with some cookies and strawberries for dessert. We spent time going over yesterday’s Sea World activities in our journals and reviewed what we learned today about Manatees. Instructions about tomorrow were given and then free time. Free time = Pool time or Free time = how do I fit everything into my bag time?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thursday 2/17/11 - Sea World

So here we are – on the bus, on our way to Tampa, after a fun filled, super educational and packed day at Sea World. Eileen and Cat – our educators – spent the day with us and made sure our 5 hours with them covered as much as possible of the different types of marine life available in the park.

We were divided into two groups of 14 students each (plus chaperons) and headed off to our first stop. Each group had some of the same educational experiences and some that were different.

Mrs. Nicholas’ and Mr. Bakers group began the day at the “Dolphin Discovery Cove” where we attempted to touch the dolphins – some of us were lucky, but just for a split second. We also watched the dolphins from an underwater observation point. Dolphins are quite amazing mammals that are very social and work together to catch their food. They do have a matriartical social society.

Next was the behind the scene tour of the Sea World Rescue Center. Here we learned about the Green Sea turtle and the Manatees. Some of these animals will be released back into the sea and others, who had been injured to severely, stay at Sea World indefinitely. One of the rescued manatees was Pixie – a small 3-month-old infant that had been found without her mother. Pixie is bottled feed every 2-3 hours. From there we headed to the Stingray encounter. Touching the Stingrays and feeling their very “slimy” skin was oh so cool! Then it was time for lunch.

Learning about classifications, taxonomy, Carlous Linnaeus, and the kingdoms took place in the on site classroom. While there, we also looked at different skulls and tried to identify what kind of animal it belonged to. On our way to the Shamu Show, we stopped and checked out the Beluga Whales. These white creatures with out a dorsal fin are often referred to as the Canaries of the sea as they have over 30 different sounds that they frequently communicate with.

At the Shamu Show some of our guys decided they wanted to sit in the “splash zone” and boy did they get splashed on – they got soaked. At least they now have bragging rights that they got splashed by a Killer Whale. We made a quick stop to visit the polar bears and the seals and sea lions before heading to our next show - The Sea Lion and the Otter Show. Clyde and Seamore – the two Sea Lions – were quite the entertainers. Our final stop with our educators was at the Shark Encounters area where we learned to respect and understand the sharks instead of being afraid of them.

Mrs. Rhodes’, Mrs. Brunk’s and Mrs. Bostic's groups were fortunate enough to also get to stop at the Turtle Encounter where they learned about 3 different kinds of carnivorous sea turtles as well as about the green sea turtle being the only one that is an omnivore. Did you know they are called green sea turtles because of the color of their fat? The chlorophyll from all the green sea grass and algae they eat can be found concentrated there. This group also learned many very cool songs as they traveled to and from the different parts of the park.

Of course there was plenty of time left over at the end of the day for everyone to enjoy Kraken and Manta - the parks very awesome roller coasters - and some of the other attractions. The weather was beautiful and with mid 70's we had it made.

All in all this was yet Another Amazing Day!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wednesday 2/16/11: Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios - A Lesson on Properties of Motion

5:15am came too early this morning as many of our students experienced. Despite lack of sleep everyone got up, got ready, had breakfast and got on the bus on time. The first half of our day was spent at Magic Kingdom learning all about Properties of Motion and our afternoon – which was all free time – was spent at Hollywood Studios.

“Space Mountain”, “Big Thunder Mountain Rail Road” and “Splash Mountain” oh my. Roller coaster as an educational tool? Oh yes! Katie and Brittany– our Youth Education Series facilitators – were awesome and we had a great time practicing and experiencing the Scientific Method many ways as we learned about centripetal force, g-force, air time, lateral force, kinetic and potential energy, velocity, speed and acceleration. We are now experts on the Properties of Motion. Audio animatronics (specifically hydraulic and pneumonic movements) was our next vocabulary word and along with an interesting demonstration and a ride – “Buzz Lightyears’s Space Ranger Spin” – we became very familiar with how Disney animates all their very life like characters on all their sets and rides. To expand our practice further we decided to check out “Pirates of the Caribbean” and ‘The Haunted Mansion” as well.

Before leaving for our afternoon fun, we had lunch at the Columbia Harbour House.

After riding the monorail and the Disney ground transportation (a bus) we finally arrived at Hollywood Studios and the main attractions of the day – “Rock’n’ Roller Coaster” and “The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror”. Mrs. Rhodes and Mrs. Nicholas heard that some of our boys rode the Rock’n’ Roller Coaster six times or so. Wow! No lines there. Others enjoyed “Lights, Camera, Action”, Indiana Jones, “The Back Stage tour”, “Toy Story Mania”, shopping and food.

Once back at the hotel around 7:30pm, we had a quick recapping of the day, filled out our journaling cards and talked about tomorrow’s agenda. Looks like we get to sleep in a little bit – Yeah! We all need it. Most everyone decided to head down to the pool for a while before lights out at 10pm.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday 2/15/11 - EPCOT

Departure – It’s hard to believe but we are finally leaving for Florida. Our charter bus picked us up at 2:15am – YES that early –at JFH and after loading our luggage, making sure everyone was there and saying our good buys we hit the road. Mrs. Rhodes and Mrs. Nicholas spent the next 45 min or so going over last minute details, handing our lanyards, getting cell phone numbers and answering questions. The only 2 that took advantage of the two-hour drive were Mr. Baker and Mrs. Bostic – they caught a few Zzzzzz. At the Airport we meet up with the groups from Montevideo and Elkton. Checking in went very smooth, as did security even if it took over an hour. But what can you expect with over 75 of us traveling.

Our plane arrived 30 minutes ahead of schedule. Wow! That’s unheard of. As we entered the baggage are Kristin and Nancy –our World Strides Guides – who got us situated right away met us. Everyone re-packed, changed and got their daypacks ready. After we boarded the bus it was off to EPCOT.

What a spectacular day we have had. High of 72, clear sunny skies, short lines and lots and lots of fun times. We started off with “Spaceship Earth” learning about communication through out times. Everyone was so excited to be inside the Geo sphere a.k.a ‘The Giant Golf Ball”. Next our group walked over to “The Land” where we hade lunch, “decompressed” and planned the rest of the day.

Learning about how to grow fresh fruit and vegetables using hydroponics along with sustainable agriculture was the topic of our next ride. This awesome ride took us through EPCOT’s very own biological laboratory where many of t he fruits and vegetables grown there are served in it’s restaurants.

Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Nye the Science Guy took us on a journey through “The Universe of Energy” where we were reminded of the different types of energy available to us – fossil fuels, hydro, wind and solar power along with fission and fusion and the one power that never runs out – brainpower.

At “Mission Earth” we took part in a space mission to Mars in this very realistic flight simulator ride. At the “Test Track” we reached speeds of nearly 70 miles/hr as we “tested” the cars for safety, durability and speed. Finally “Soaring” took us hang gliding through the breath taking scenery California. The Imax movie in combination with the rocking hang gliding seat, wind and smell effects made it very realistic.

Before free time we visited Norway in “The World Showcase” and road Maelstrom – a Viking ship that took us through the history and traditions of this Nordic country.
Dinner was enjoyed by the adults at Japan, where we watched the food being cooked in front of us. Delicious and entertaining at the same time. At 8:30, after a few hours of exploring on our own, everyone met up again to watch the “Illuminations” fire works show.

It’s almost 11:30pm and everyone is in their rooms hopefully in bed recharging for another exciting day – Magic Kingdom and Hollywood studios watch out, because here we come.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Vera Bradley and Longaberger Basket Bingo - Saturday October 9, 2010

After a lot of hard work, collection of door prices, silent auction items and selling of tickets, the doors opened to our 2nd annual JFH WS Vera Bradley & Longaberger Basket Bingo and Silent Auction. Once again it proved to be a great event with a fairly good turn out. We had over 100 people there playing 20 rounds of bingo with an extra bonus round at the end. There were more than 110 items to bid at for the silent action, ranging from picture frames, gift cards to restaurants and amazing photo session deals and other services. The local community really showed us their amazing support by donating all of these items along with so, so many different certificates and gift cards that we used as door prizes in between each game of bingo. We were able to draw 2-3 door prices each time. All in all it was a very fun and successful event and our WS students worked super hard to raise funds for their trip.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bridgewater's 175th Birthday Celebration - TACO SALADS any one?

September 4 and 5, 2010

2010 is the Town of Bridgewater’s 175th birthday. In order to celebrate this exciting event the town had a 4 day celebration with a parade, historic home tours, town cook book, bands, a time capsule, a 5K race and lots of concessions as well as free carnival rides, a visit by the Royal Dukes Marching Band and fire works. Concessions? What a wonderful fundraising opportunity. So this time we decided to sell TACO Salads. “Buy some Taco Salads, buy some Taco Salads……” Katie and Kiersten could be heard all over Oakdale park advertising (they even got their picture in the Shenandoah Journal) delicious Taco Salads and it really paid off. We sold 290 salads or so, along with drinks, cookies and candy. Preparation of 70 lbs of ground beef, slicing of tomatoes, onions and lettuce took place each day for a few hours prior to the actual concession stand hours. Mrs. Nicholas’ kitchen was quite full. Who said that too many cooks in the kitchen is not good. It worked just fine for us.