Montessori Community School eighth-grade students to travel to Honduras

Jun. 10, 2013 @ 08:37 PM

A group of eighth grade students from Montessori Community School (MCS) in Durham will travel to Roatan, Honduras this month.

Spanish and Science teacher, Michele Widd, a Spanish and science teacher, and Peter Piche, a humanities and English teacher, will take the 2013 graduating class to the island of Roatan on an eight-day trip of education, community service and adventure.

The annual International Trip is offered to graduating eighth graders and is the culmination of many overnight trips that are an integral part of the school’s curriculum. Starting in the third grade and continuing through eighth, students embark on three-day trips to the N.C. mountains and coast.

In seventh and eighth grade, students travel further afield at the start of each school year with a week-long trip called The Odyssey. The Odyssey itinerary alternates between the United States’ Northeast and Southeast, giving students the opportunity to experience history rather than simply reading it in a textbook. This trip also builds a strong sense of community among students and teachers, and nurtures students’ independence from their families.

The International Trip takes students even further outside their comfort zone to the island of Roatan, one of the Bay Islands off mainland Honduras. During the week-long trip, students study local history and culture and complete their Junior Open Water SCUBA certification, allowing them to fully experience the wonders of the underwater world. Through lectures and activities coordinated through the Roatan Institute for Marine Science (RIMS), they come to understand the importance of reef ecology and conservation and learn about and interact with a pod of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.

While the academic component is an important part of this program, the practical life experiences are perhaps even more important. The students learn how to navigate the airport and are responsible for managing check-in, customs and immigration procedures on their own. Upon arrival on Roatan, they experience the vast natural and cultural wealth of the area, but are also faced with the reality of life in a country whose economic and social development lags far behind that of their own country. Furthermore they find themselves in a situation where not everyone around them speaks English and their Spanish skills can be truly tested.

MCS has established a partnership with a local community organization, School of Life International (SOL), that provides community-based programs designed to promote education, improve health and increase the quality of life for the children on Roatan. Trip participants collect donated school supplies, first aid supplies and sports equipment in the U.S. and deliver them to SOL. They also provide meaningful, hands-on community service by working side-by-side with local children on clean-up, construction, and craft projects.

Montessori Community School is home to over 260 students, toddler through eighth grades. The MCS campus is on 14 acres of natural landscape that lends itself to a Montessori environment. An American Montessori Society-accredited school, MCS has wonderful indoor and outdoor spaces where students can work, play, discover, and learn. Our highly dedicated and trained faculty members guide each child’s progress through the curriculum. We educate children according to Maria Montessori’s highest values of community, love of learning, perseverance,and education as an aid to life.

More information on SOL International Foundation can be found at

More information on the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS) can be found at

Deborah Shah is director of marketing and communications for the Montessori Community School in Durham.



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