Sophomores, juniors, and seniors were given the opportunity to go on a service learning trip to Puerto Rico during the winter break. After Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico was left devastated; the damage destroyed homes, caused schools to close down, and left many Puerto Ricans in poverty.
Mrs. Erica Martinelli, one of the trip advisors, said that the reason she chose Puerto Rico as the location for the 2019 school trip was because she felt “an overwhelming desire to help in any way possible” because “Puerto Rico was in need of assistance.”
To ensure a “sustainable future” for Puerto Rico, students cleaned pollution off beach shores, tested water quality, built community centers, cleared land, participated in reforestation efforts, and decorated fences in the community. In addition to the service learning aspect of the trip, the students also immersed themselves in Puerto Rican culture via taking cooking classes in traditional Puerto Rican cuisine, dancing with the citizens of Puerto Rico, and swimming in a bioluminescent bay.
Jamila Thompson (CO 2019) affirmed that the “experience was enlightening” and “it felt good to help others.” She also enjoyed “exploring the culture with the residents.” After going to Puerto Rico, she discovered “it was worse than [she] thought,” especially “the education system in the poorer neighborhoods.”
Martinelli added that the trip “served as an opportunity for our students to have a hands-on experience in creating a sustainable future in Puerto Rico.”