School Board Hears Panama Trip Proposal

Published: September 14, 2018 at 07:00 am


Newtown High School educators presented a proposal at the Board of Education’s September 4 meeting for a scouting trip to Panama in order to establish a new program for students.

NHS Principal Dr Kimberly Longobucco and educators Sue McConnell, Tim DeJulio, and Shawn Mullen presented the proposal to the board. Dr Longobucco explained the trip, if approved, would be a scouting trip to Panama to “look for safety as well as a potential trip [for students] to learn about culture, academics, and science in a place where the [Newtown International Center for Education] NICE hasn’t sent students in the past.”

Roughly one year ago, Dr Longobucco, Ms McConnell, and Mr DeJulio visited India on a scouting trip: that trip created the chance for students to travel to India later in the 2016-17 school year.

According to Mr Mullen, the new proposal would have the three educators travel to the Cocobolo Nature Reserve in Panama to study “all sorts of scientific endeavors.” While scouting the area, Mr Mullen said the educators would be making sure it is safe for students.

“We’re hoping to scout out the materials and procedures that are being used at the reserve to properly prepare our students for whatever learning experiences they may come into contact with in Panama,” Mr Mullen said.

Along with experiencing the local culture, Mr Mullen said the students would conduct research in the area.

“Not only are we going to be doing scientific research at the reserve, but we are also going to be taking trips to the Panama Canal,” said Mr Mullen about the different plans for the possible future student trip.

According to Mr Mullen, the scouting trip would cost $8,400.

Ms McConnell explained that the educators need to make the scouting trip in order to solidify plans for the possible student trip. Ms McConnell also said the educators would like to travel during a time that would not impact teaching in the classroom.

“There are so many applications of them visiting there, both for cultural and science [perspectives], to bring back to the community, to go into the elementary schools and middle school and share what they learned,” said Ms McConnell, adding that the educators need to go to Panama first to see what the area can specifically offer Newtown students.

According to Ms McConnell and Mr DeJulio, trips through NICE can cost students roughly $2,800 each, depending on the trip.

Board of Education members spoke about possibly voting on whether to support the scouting trip at its next meeting, scheduled for September 18.


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