Homer schools go on tour over 2024 spring break

Students went to Australia, Washington, D.C., and Yellowstone National Park

Over spring break, Homer High School teacher Erin Brege took 12 high school students to Australia. Students participating on the trip included Marilyn Brewer-Cote, McKenzie Hansen, Malina Neland, Natalie Roy, McKenna Carlin, Hanna Lima, Halen Nordstrom, Lillianna White, Raquel Goldman, Sierra Mullikin, Wynn Reed and David Webb III.

Hansen, a sophomore, said the students didn’t choose where to do an international trip for the break; the Breges, Erin and Joshua, who also accompanied the trip, just found a good deal on ticket prices and a tour company for the event and offered it as an opportunity.

“Last year there was a meeting for students who might be interested in the trip and the Breges told us all about it and we signed up after they told us about some of the things we might do and see,” Hansen said.

On display in the Homer High School library is a collection of photos of the students on the tour. Hansen shared with us her memories of the locations and what they did from each photo.

The students met in Anchorage, flew to Seattle and then Los Angeles where they had a long layover and toured the city, including the Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach. From Los Angeles they had a 15-hour direct flight to Sydney.

“We went to Bondi Beach in Sydney and took a little 45-minute surf lesson — they just taught us how to sit up and balance. It was the first time I had been surfing,” Hansen said.

A surf forecast website states that the typical sea water temperature for Sydney in March is about 70 degrees. Hansen said it felt a little chilly but the air temperature was so warm it wasn’t very noticeable as soon as they got out of the water. The group also visited and toured the Sydney Opera House built in 1973, the Sydney Harbor and snorkled at the Great Barrier Reef.

“My favorite parts of the trip were when we saw animals, swam in the reef and walked on trails through the rainforest,” sophomore Sierra Mullikin said in a slide presentation given by the students at the Homer Public Library in early April. “It was especially fun to swim in the reef because we were told about the different kinds of sea life beforehand.”

Another student mentioned the experience of a glass bottom boat tour.

Hansen talked about visiting with a Native Aboriginal tribe in Kuranda, near Kaan. “They played a didgeridoo, showed us how they traditionally hunted and then performed some dances for us; in one of the dances they invited people from the crowd to come up and join them. Hanna (Lima) did it,” she said.

One of the last places they visited was the Daintree Rainforest in North Queensland. At 135 million years old, it is the oldest rainforest in the world. “It was one of the only places we experienced rain and this rainforest is super big and diverse,” Hansen said.

The group took one flight on Australia between Sydney and Kaan. Everything else was attended by tour bus. According to the library presentation slides, support for the trip was also provided by many local businesses and individuals in Homer.

In addition to the high school tour, other local school students had the opportunity to travel. Homer Middle School students visited the Washington, D.C., over spring break. Chapman Elementary hosted a group visit to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Yellowstone’s 2.2 million acres of protected park land opened in 1872.