Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 30
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

Prudential Fox and Roach, Realtors

Gloria Nilson GMAC Real Estate

Henderson Sotheby's International Realty

N.T. Callaway Princeton Office

Stockton Real Estate, LLC

Weichert, Realtors

Advertise in Town Topics

Iris Interiors

Advertise in Town Topics

Weather Forecast

PHS Students Participate in Special Program To Explore Environmental Issues in Honduras

Ellen Gilbert

Princeton High School (PHS) recently became the first public high school in the United States to have students participate in Operation Wallacea, an international effort that sponsors biodiversity surveys in endangered areas of the world.

The PHS students’ destination for their two-week trip at the end of June was Honduras. The group consisted of rising juniors and seniors as well as recent graduates; seniors who wanted to participate in their graduation exercises arrived a week after the first group, and stayed on a week later. Most of them described the experience as “life-changing.”

While Operation Wallacea consists largely of academics and graduate students finishing their PhD’s, the high school contingent was most welcome. “They’re looking for younger students to do the really detail-oriented, laborious work,” reported Science Supervisor Cherry Sprague, who received a letter from a Wallacea representative inviting PHS to participate.

In a recent interview, the PHS group seemed pleased to have acquired new skills in conservation survey techniques (like measuring the carbon-worth of a forest), not to mention having an experience that will look great on their resumes. Certification in open water scuba-diving also came with the project.

Unfazed by the hepatitis B, tuberculosis, and typhoid vaccinations they had to receive — not to mention the anti-malarial pills they are still taking — the students absorbed daily lectures and hands-on experiences with fauna that included bats, birds, and dung beetles. And while just about all of them got “sick” (read: stomach distress) at some point, they seem to have taken it all in stride. They bathed in waterfalls, carried heavy bags as they hiked, climbed steep terrain, learned about the profoundly negative effect of poachers, and ate “enough mangoes to last a lifetime.”

Finishing each others’ sentences, students enthused about the “vibrant colors,” the extraordinary experience of being in a rain forest; “amazing wildlife;” and the variety of seafood — including octopus, barracuda, eagle ray, lion fish, squid, parrot fish, and grouper — they were able to observe up close.

Cuba had been the PHS students’ first choice as a destination, but failing to get State Department permission to go there led to Honduras, and, from the sound of it, they never looked back. Some of the younger students have expressed interest in PHS’s next trip; they also have the option to strike out on their own, or participate in other organizations that offer similar programs.

PHS’s next trip, Ms. Sprague said (“in two years,” perhaps), will rely a lot more on fund-raising than this first venture. With just a few months to prepare, bake sales and the like didn’t bring in much money this year. Parents’ recognition of the project’s value and their willingness to cover most of the expenses enabled this first group to go, Ms. Sprague reported. Exit interviews also indicated that speaking at least some Spanish might be preferable in the future.

The eleven PHS students who went to Honduras were Sorrel Anderson; Jacques Bazile, II; Andrew Chi; Sam Dercon; Lynn DiFerdinando; Angel Fan, Maithili Joshi; David Klinges; Grace Klinges; Timea Koloszvary; and Olivia Rand. They were accompanied by Ms. Sprague and science teacher Andrea Panagakis.

Return to Top | Go to Next Story

Town Topics® may be purchased on Wednesday mornings at the following locations: Princeton — McCaffrey’s, Cox’s, Kiosk (Palmer Square), Krauszer’s (State Road), Olives, Speedy Mart (State Road), Wawa (University Place); Hopewell — Village Express; Rocky Hill — Wawa (Route 518); Pennington — Pennington Market.
Copyright© Town Topics®, Inc. 2011.