March 21, 2005 — Kindergarten students of the Evelyn M. Williams Elementary school took their learning out of the classroom Friday, and some family members joined them. The event was the 2005 Class trip. Forty-four people, including teachers and other family members boarded the early ferry and set out to explore their sister island of St. Thomas. First on the agenda was some classroom learning at the Michael J. Kirwan Elementary School
The students were dressed in bright orange t-shirts and adults were easily identified in royal purple. The children, who caught a few extra winks on the drive to the ferry dock in Christiansted, quickly replaced sleepy frowns with smiles of delight as they glimpsed the first view of the Virgin Islands Fast Ferry catamaran, the Salacia, which was to be their mode of transportation across 40 miles of the Caribbean Sea.
After the ride to St. Thomas, the first stop was the Michael J. Kirwan Elementary school. The group was met with a song from Carolyn Nibbs' kindergarten class. Dressed in their pale pink shirts and grey pants or skirts the children greeted their counterparts "Welcome to St. Thomas, Welcome to M.J. Kirwan School," they sang. The next three hours were spent in the classroom exchanging teaching styles and each class got the chance to show off their expertise in number and alphabet songs. Valerie Peter, Williams' kindergarten teacher said the exposure to life on another island as well as experiencing other teaching styles is good for the children. "We are all one territory," Peter said. "I wanted to give the children a sense of what they are teaching in St. Thomas."
Precariously perched on the seats of two safari busses, the cautious Crucians wound their way to the Mountain Top lookout point and then to Coral World Ocean Park. Several parents observed, while climbing uphill and maneuvering the hairpin turns that are typical of St. Thomas roadways, that the busses did not have any seat belts. More than a few times adults were seen closing their eyes as the buses swung around curves inches away from oncoming traffic, undoubtedly wishing for St. Croix's straighter, flatter roads while the children screamed with glee.
Safe and sound at the park, under the watchful eyes of the chaperones, the children explored the park exhibits. It took a little coaxing to get more then one kindergartener to venture down the dimly lit stairs of the undersea observatory the taped sounds of whales seemed a bit spooky. The touch pool was a hit. The children gathered around warily touching the pebbly backs of star fish. "It feels good, go ahead touch it," one little girl said to another. But the most interesting creature in the park for the Crucian children seemed to be the iguanas. Although St. Croix has some iguanas, they are not as common as they are on St. Thomas.
Peters says the students benefit from field trips like this one. "Some of them have never been off island, never been on a boat," Peters said. The class goes on other field trips like the fire stations, the post office, the police station and the science lab at the Pearl B. Larsen School.
Also accompanying the students and parents on the trip were kindergarten teacher Ann Bramble, Debra Mason, paraprofessional, and Cynthia Warbington, kindergarten counselor. Nineteen other adults; mothers, fathers, grandmothers, sisters and aunts, came along to chaperone the children.
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