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Saturday, November 17 , 2018, 12:28 pm | Fair with Haze 65º


Marymount Middle School Students Learn and Play in Monterey

Seventh- and eighth-graders take their classroom on the road

What if the Monterey Bay Aquarium was your classroom?

Every two years, Marymount takes its seventh- and eighth-graders on an enlightening yet entertaining trip to Monterey and San Francisco. On the trip we stay at the charming and rustic Asilomar Conference Center, surrounded by sandy beaches and cypress trees. In the mornings we set out early. When we arrive at the aquarium, we break off into small groups and explore, carrying composition books in which we write notes and poems.

A great white shark, a sunfish, mysterious sea horses, endearing sea otters, large sea turtles, mesmerizing jellyfish and more — all are in our presence. To understand how prodigious these animals and fish are, and how delicate the balance is to keep them safe, inspires us.

Many of my classmates stop for a while, engulfed in the movements of jellyfish, smiling with the playful sea otters and awestruck by the amount of pilot fish that swarm the tanks.

Graham Mills, an eighth-grade student, remembers his impression of the kelp forest in particular.

“For the numerous amount of ocean life within, the kelp forest is a sanctuary that provides protection and a home,” he said.

During our stay, we follow a historical walk through Monterey, which gives us an indication of the history of the area.

We visit Colton Hall. In the past, this building served as a town hall and a jail, and it is the birthplace of California’s constitution. We take a spin around Fisherman’s Wharf, where many of us treat ourselves to ice cream and make silly faces in the photo booth.

“It was a bonding experience that left us feeling a sense of kinship as a middle school,” eighth-grader Lauren Seigel said.

On the next day, we tour the John Steinbeck Center, learning about his life and the creativity behind his books, in particular The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men, a book the seventh-grade students read each year, so we are familiar and can make connections.

On the last full day of the trip, we make a bike expedition along the San Francisco Bay, and we have the option of a breathtaking journey across the Golden Gate Bridge. Despite the hot weather and uphill climb, all are in high spirits. In the end, everyone’s facial expression proves the ride is more than worth it.

Thanks to our teachers, who made this trip extraordinary, we strengthened our knowledge of independence and the desire to learn, especially about the animals that live in the aquarium!

— McKenna Madden is an eighth-grader at Marymount of Santa Barbara.

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