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Teacher Chris Renault, center, with JCMS students check out tidal pool creatures at the Oregon Aquarium's touching pool.The Oregon Coast was the destination of an overnight field trip for 42 Jefferson County Middle School seventh- and eighth-graders and eight chaperones, June 6-7.

Teachers Alison Groves and Chris Renault, and students raised over $7,000, including private donations, to take the two-day trip.    

“This all started last year when I realized that many of my students, who are moving up to the high school next year, had never seen the ocean. It broke my heart that we are so close to something so great and yet they had not seen or experienced it,” Renault said.

After getting a go-ahead from administrators, Renault, Groves, educational assistants, other staff members and students, began holding fundraisers, including a Bingo Night, two dances, sold Sonic Drink Cards, and were given private donations.  

The teachers also tied the trip in with studies.

“We dissected squid and ate calamari, researched Oregon ocean life, and integrated science, math, reading and writing throughout the school year. The students had the most difficult part. They had to do their best to have a 2.0 gpa or higher, plus have improved behavior, participation and attendance,” Renault said.

“They truly earned this trip! In 24 years of teaching, it topped my list of greatest learning opportunities and I think I learned more than they did,” she added. 

On the way to the coast, the students visited Oregon State University and had lunch on the campus, and took a short tour.

Once on the coast, they went to Newport and saw the Hatfield Marine Science Center, then arrived at Nye Beach, which, for a majority of the students, was their first experience of the beach and ocean.

The next stop was the Oregon Aquarium, where the group spent the evening and the night sleeping under the shark tunnel and learning about sea life and adaptations.

On Friday morning, they left the aquarium and went to South Beach, where the kids played in the sand and surf and found little sea creatures.

The final stop was at McDonald's in Sweet Home, where each student was given $5 to spend wisely on lunch. 

Eighth-grader, Bryttaney liked the sea life. "It was so fun and we learned about so many animals. My favorite part was watching them feed the sea lions at the aquarium,” she said.

Damon, also an eighth-grader, said, "I loved sleeping under the sharks, and I didn't even want to go at first. It was awesome!”

For most, just playing on the beach was the best part of the trip.

“I can't begin to tell you how life changing this was for all of us,” Renault said, adding, “We’re already making plans for next year's adventure.”

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