An unforgettable experience

The seventh graders took their annual trip to Nature’s Academy.

Amari Clark, Junior Staff Writer

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  • Annabelle Pullen and Ella Ziegler smile for the camera as Mrs. Rappold hangs up the lines where wet towels hang to dry.

  • Some of the seventh Grade girls smiling and laughing while swinging on a swing at Nature’s Retreat.

  • The Seventh Graders at Fort De Soto examine a shark before they start dissecting it.

  • Jack Horn gets ready to set up his offense for a game of basketball during free time.

  • Brooke Cosentino, Layla Smith, and Laila Yavalar share a laugh during snack time.

  • Mark Seklitov looks into the microscope for micro-plastics while Guy Dalzell helps adjust it so they’re visible.

  • Hao Li works with a tool to learn more about groundwater aquifers through a model.

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On Monday, October 14, the seventh graders left for our annual trip to Lakewood Retreat with Nature’s Academy.

When we finished settling into the rooms we would be calling home for the next three nights, we trickled into the meeting room where all of the indoor activities were going to be taking place for the rest of the trip.

Tuesday consisted of a long, but enjoyable kayak trip down the Weeki-Wachee River. The five and a half mile trek took about three hours to get to Roger’s Park. Students spent this time socializing and enjoying the nature around them.

Many students had enough time to go up and down the river. Even though the tipping of a kayak was highly unwanted, it was still very amusing, many kayaks ended up tipping because of the trees, as well as too many people trying to fit through the same narrow part of the river.

After free time, the teachers presented us with a game that they had put together. To play, everyone had to get into groups of no more than six. Then, we were handed an envelope with a prompt, and had to create the scene given in five minutes.

The students had lots of fun coming up with unique ideas for each of the prompts. One of the prompts was to come up with a scene that had to do with tennis. A group decided they would act out a game from Wii Tennis in a very amusing performance.

On Wednesday, we woke up at 6:15 AM to get an early start for the exciting day ahead at King’s Bay. After a short and sleepy bus ride, the students arrived at the Crystal River to observe Manatees.

It’s against the law to touch the manatees, but several of the students were able to watch one swim right under them.

For the second part of the day, the students went on an even longer bus ride to the Rainbow River. While on the river, students were allowed to free dive or use a pool noodle to drift with the current down the river.

Thursday was sadly the last day of our trip. After packing up everything out of the rooms and leaving Lakewood retreat, the busses set out for Fort De Soto, where we were able to dissect sharks.

A couple of students even found shark pups or eggs at their station. At first, we were kind of afraid to touch one of the pups. But after seeing how harmless and fascinating they were, it was a really cool hands-on experience.

We later took nets and went into the water at Fort De Soto where students found shrimp, a puffer fish, and other sea-creatures.

The seventh graders took the bus back to Saint Stephen’s and all went home safe and excited for the four day weekend ahead. We will never forget what an amazing experience this trip was.