Category Archives: Student Travel

Celebrity Reporters in Florida

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Some of our rising Gr 9 and 10 students travelled to Florida this past week with Middle School Spanish teacher, Hilda Ramirez. We are sharing a note home to parents in today’s blog post to give you a taste of their adventures thus far:

Dear Parents,

We are all very sad that this is our last full day in Florida, the students were amazing and a joy to be around. They were always up for any adventure no matter what the weather brought!

As one of the newest members to this Riverstone group, it was a joy to see how well the students interacted with one another, and especially, how well they care for each other. Thank you for the opportunity to travel with them!

Please enjoy our last update by our three celebrity reporters, Javin S, James E, and Manaka G.


Hi, I’m Javin. Today we visited Curry Hammock State Park in Marathon Key.  There, we went searching in the ocean for wildlife. We focused on looking in tall sea grass. We used large nets to collect small creatures that inhabited the grass. We found a wide variety of animals, ranging from arthropods to mollusks. Some of the notable creatures we found were seahorses, a large horseshoe crab, and a sea cucumber. We also found many different kinds of fish. This was a unique opportunity to learn some interesting ecology about the Florida Key’s ocean wildlife. For me, the best part of this activity was classifying and naming every animal we caught. 

Hello, James here. Today we went to Robby’s in Marathon Key. It was an outdoor area with a multitude of local culture, similar to ‘Art in the Park’ in Boise. Upon arrival, we entered a small hut near the shore and supplied ourselves with small fish. We then walked down a dock and held the fish about three inches above the water, waiting for large Tarpons to jump out of the ocean and take the bait. After that, we went back to the market and viewed the various chefs selling homemade popcorn, drinks, and other foods, as well as artists and photographers selling their works. There was one person in particular who made amazing art with spray-paint and various tools. He sold his work for only $20, and I totally would’ve bought one if there was a way to take it on the plane without damaging it. 

I’m Manaka. Today we went to the turtle hospital. We learned a lot of things about sick turtles and how they make them better. We watched turtles in the tanks. They help them get better so they can send them to the ocean. We saw at least 100 turtles in there. I feel bad for turtles that cannot return to the ocean. I hope people keep the ocean clean.

DC Adventures & Reflections

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The following is an excerpt from a note to parents from Andy Johnson, our Director of Secondary Education and one of three trip chaperones with our rising Gr 8 class in Washington, D.C.:

Hi everyone,

Today was a day packed with information, ideas, and some things that are almost too big to think about.

We started at the United States Holocaust Museum and Memorial.

This museum limits admittance to 2,000 people per day. Tickets are usually gone by 11.00-12.00 everyday. I was in line at 8.30 and I was waaaaay back. They begin handing out tickets at 10.00. We did get in at 10.45.

For me…the USHMM is the one “must do” in DC. The museum and memorial gives an incredibly sensitive, yet powerful and unambiguous look at anti-semitism and the metamorphosis of the Nazi state’s (and its allies’) response to what they called the “Jewish Questions” while presenting stories of resistance and courage. Ask your kids what they remember – in some short talks that I had with kids, they remembered courage and resistance while being affected by the scale of the Holocaust.

We spent nearly three hours in the museum and memorial. This, I think, is a Riverstone record. The kids really engaged. They read, questioned, listened and thought. I’m not sure they were all ready to go even after three hours.

Afterwards we trundled down to eat lunch in the view of the Jefferson Memorial in the Tidal Pool. After the memorial we went back up to the Mall to see the Natural History Museum (eleven kids, Kendra and I) and three kids went with Tom back to the American History Museum.

We all visited the National Air and Space Museum. There are always tons of people here and today was no different, but it seemed more manageable. I really enjoyed the WWI and WWII aircraft. I also liked getting to see some UAVs (drones) up close. A few of us spent some time looking at and talking about these aircraft that we hear so much about.

After a long day, we came back to G-town and walked down the hill to M Street where we had fantastic burgers and fries at Good Stuff Eatery. We ran into one of our school families there as well. I want to thank Heather for getting us all milkshakes for dessert! The kids (and Tom, Kendra and I) were very grateful. They were delicious.

Tommorrow we are off to see a display of 5th Grade art (including those from Riverstone) at the Department of Education, Ford’s Theater, some more art and, in the evening, in Arlington.

Your kids are amazing. Sweet, funny and super inquisitive. Thank you for sending them with us.


Destination: Monterey, CA

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This summer has been a busy one for optional travel opportunities for our students. Destinations included Washington, D.C., Brazil, and the Basque Country! Students entering Grades 9-10 also had the opportunity to travel to Monterey, CA; they are currently on Day 5 of their trip.

Here’s an update from trip chaperone and Riverstone teacher, Samantha Cole.

“Today was my favorite day! We started with discussions and writings on Steinbeck’s Cannery Row. We had a bit of free time around lunch and then went sea kayaking! Everyone had wetsuits and splash jackets with a pfd and were able to choose between a double or single sit on top kayak. We saw sea lion, seals, sea otters, sea stars, sea urchins, pelicans and an egg yolk jellyfish. How exciting! We studied the relationship between tidal zone and diversity and type of life.”

Previously, the group explored Mono Lake, hiked to Nevada Falls in Yosemite, and toured the Monterey Aquarium. They also had great fun playing in the tide pools with the hermit crabs and sea anemones!

Basque Country Continued

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More from our travelers in Basque Country, led by teacher Jami Whitmer:

Well, today was a very busy day!

Santi, our guide, met us at the hotel at 9am and we were off in a private mini-bus to the town of Gernika. The weather was gloomy and cool, yet kind of fitting for the conversations we had about the bombing of the area and its effect on the inhabitants. We walked through an old market that has been in operation for hundreds of years, and a couple of us tried some stinky goat cheese. Yum!

We then saw a tile rendition of Picasso’s Guernica, and Santi shared with us that the Basque region has been trying for years to get the original from the Reina Sofia in Madrid. No such luck, however.

We then drove to the areas of Mundaka and Bermeo. In Mundaka, we watched surfers for a bit. The surfing here is some of the best in the world, and competitions are held here regularly. They make it look easy (but cold!).

We stopped along the way for photo ops along the coast, and walked around the town of Bermeo.

We drove back to Bilbao around 5pm. Now we are in for the night, and off to see the ‘Hanging bridge’ and a picturesque town tomorrow.

Hope all are well, more tomorrow!

Basque Country Day Two

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Another update from our travelers in Madrid and their leader, Jami Whitmer:

Greetings from Madrid!

We started the day by taking the metro to the Prado museum. Our friendly guide, Gemma, took us on a wonderful tour of the major pieces, explaining meaning and composition of various works. Highlights were the dark paintings of Goya and the very famous “Las Meninas” by Velasquez. After the museum tour, we did a bit of window shopping, and the boys bought a soccer ball in the ‘soccer mania’ store. We then stopped at a lovely restaurant for a leisurely lunch complete with various desserts.

To burn the desserts off, we walked to the impressive Parque de Retiro, a park established in the 18th century by royalty. We looked for a place to play soccer, but instead walked around the grounds, enjoying the beautiful architecture.

After a short siesta, we ate dinner at a casual place called doner kebap (Turkish sandwiches) and have almost called it a night.

We didn’t make it to the second museum today, so we hope to go there tomorrow evening. On the agenda for tomorrow is a walking tour and finding a place to play a little soccer. The weather has been cooler and cloudier than expected, so thankfully all brought layers. The kids have amazing energy and have had a great day, I imagine the same will go for tomorrow!

Basque Country Day One

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Spanish teacher, Jami Whitmer, is one of the two chaperones for the group traveling to Basque Country. She wrote the following note to parents at the end of day one:

We traveled from Boise to Phoenix to Charlotte to Madrid. We left Charlotte almost an hour late due to rain, but the flight was uneventful (besides a student getting a bit stuck in the plane lavatory). We were met upon arrival in Madrid by a tour guide who took us on a bus tour of the city. We stopped at a couple of sights to take pictures and admire the beautiful views. Later, we checked in to the hotel, had a bite to eat, and headed out on foot.

We explored a bit of the city, walking around a large cathedral, the Plaza Mayor, and the Palacio Real. We continued on to a beautiful park; at this point the kids were clearly fading so we decided to make our way back to the hotel. We are all pretty tired, having been up for 30 hours or so. Everyone is currently resting for a bit. We will wake them up to have some sweets in honor of Jenny’s birthday in a couple of hours, and then let them rest up some more.

Tomorrow is museum day – we will go to the Prado in the morning and hopefully the Reina Sofia in the afternoon/evening.

Stay tuned for more adventures!