OREGON (WREX) — Where have you been on vacation?
A question met with some surprising answers for Alice Starkey and other teachers at Oregon High School.
“I had a couple of kids who said they had never really been out of the Oregon area,” Starkey said.
Learning this led Starkey to ask a new question, this one to the school’s superintendent.
“We immediately went to Dr. Mahoney and said ‘Can we have a van? We want to take a trip and get these kids out of Illinois.'”
His answer was yes.
Starkey piled the van filled with kids for a road trip to Mississippi, driving through six states in four days.
This trip is how Club 9 started.
“Club 9 is basically an opportunity for kids to get some experiences in some different recreational activities and some educational ones,” Starkey said.
“It’s really important our kids have background knowledge and that they have experiences. When they don’t have those experiences to pull from, it makes it really hard for them to relate to a lot of things we are doing at school.”
Kids have been able to experience a lot outside of Oregon over the last 7 years.
From watching plays and musicals in Chicago up to mountain climbing in Colorado and visiting Yellowstone National Park.
However, Club 9 gives kids the chance to see what else the stateline has to offer.
The group’s most recent trip was to Loves Park Scuba to learn how to scuba dive.
“I thought it would really benefit me. Club 9 benefits a lot of kids but since I have a plan to become a marine after high school,” Oregon High School senior Talon Richardson said.
“I thought this would be really good to get me used to being in the water and really get used to the scuba gear that the marines are going to use.”
The kids got a full tutorial on how to use the equipment before throwing it on and hopping into the water.
While some kids were excited others, like Lilian Harriet were a bit nervous.
However, Harriet loves having something like Club 9 to help her become more outgoing.
“It’s really amazing because if you’re someone like me who’s really shy and not really social, it makes it easier for you to get out there with other people and learn new things and become more social with others,” Harriet said.
The social interaction is the best part for Starkey as well.
She enjoys seeing the kids talk about what they just did and connectin
g with one another.
“This is a group of kids that doesn’t hang out together and now they’ve got somebody they can bond with. Somebody that’s had the same experience as they had,” Starkey said.
Through all of the fun, the mission of Club 9 is still to be educational.
Something Starkey is proving can happen well outside of the classroom.
“If you can take that learning out of the classroom whether it’s a field trip or something that’s just purely for the fun of it, you’re really building on that foundation that you’re starting at school.”
The students involve praise the work Club 9 does for them, and even more so, the work Starkey puts in to make it all possible.
She is probably my favorite out of the whole high school. Not any other teacher is going to take you to go scuba diving or go do air soft or paintball with you. It’s really exhilarating to have a teacher like that.,” Richardson said.
This year, the big trip is the students planning a trip to New York.