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Jefferson High School students, teacher discover Peru through 10-day trip

By Staff | Jul 6, 2018

Machu Picchu, a sacred city built in the 15th century and later abandoned, as seen from the top of several hundred steps. Photo by Toni Milbourne.

Editors Note: The writer of this article, Toni Milbourne, participated in the EF Educational Tour trip to Peru with her daughter, one of the two now-graduated Jefferson High School students to attend.

Toni Milbourne

For the Chronicle

PERU — Margaret Tice loves to teach and she loves to travel. Combining the best of both worlds, Tice, a teacher at Jefferson High School, has organized nine educational trips for students over the previous years.

While the trips are not sanctioned by the school system, Tice works with EF Educational Tours to provide an opportunity for JHS students to travel to countries far from Shenandoah Junction.

In early June, Tice headed up a trip to Peru. While the Peru trip drew interest last year when she presented it to her students, only two now-graduated JHS students made the full commitment to participate in the 10-day excursion that included visiting the famous sites of Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley and the Amazon jungle.

The group was combined with 24 other students and chaperones from three schools in Texas, Colorado and Missouri during the trip.

The travel through Peru was done via several modes of transportation, including planes, trains and boats. After a day in Lima, exploring the capital city and sharing in the excitement of the Peruvian soccer team’s first trip to the World Cup in 37 years, the student group boarded a plane for Cuzco and then took a bus to the Sacred Valley, a region of Peru’s Andean highlands.

After visiting Cuzco and the Sacred Valley, the group traveled on bus and foot to the ancient city of Machu Picchu, to complete their trip through the heart of the Incan Empire.

“Taking buses up to Machu Picchu was an adventure in itself — 14 switchbacks, some pretty serious drop offs with no guard rails and oncoming buses barreling down the mountain — it was all worth it,” Tice said about Machu Picchu, which was built in the 1400s for an unknown purpose.

Late in the trip, the travelers flew into Puerto Maldanado where they then traveled four hours up the Tambapata River into the Amazon to stay in a lodge for the final two days of the trip. While there, they took a nighttime tour into the jungle where the guides pointed out multiple varieties of snakes, bugs and spiders, including a tarantula. An early morning hike allowed some members of the group to see macaws in the wild, and on a river trip, alligators and other animals native to the area could be seen along the shores.

Tice said a high school trip to England and France first inspired her love of traveling and desire to share that love with her own students.

“I always told myself that if I ever got a chance to take students to different countries, I would, which is why I started this adventure with EF Tours in 2005,” Tice said. “I’ve taken about 75 students over these nine trips, as well as some of their parents and grandparents. I love being part of opening up the world to them.”

Tice’s 2019 student trip will go to England and France, and will include a visit to the beaches of Normandy in honor of the 75th anniversary of D-Day.