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Georgia Studies Learning Tour makes first stop of the 2004-2005 year

Five years ago eighth grade teachers Lynn Cato and Dorothy Kay, along with a handful of students and their parents, began taking several trips on weekends to give students an opportunity to see the wonders of the state of Georgia. The Thomson Middle School Georgia Studies Learning Tour was born! Today, the GSLT, a series of Saturday field trips to Georgia sites connected to the Quality Core Curriculum, is the only one of its kind in the CSRA.

TMS_okefenokee_key.jpg

Lauren Key gets up close with a snake.

On Saturday, Sept. 25th, 40 eighth grade students, teachers and chaperones kicked off the 2004-2005 Georgia Studies Learning Tour with a trip to the Okefenokee Swamp in Waycross, Georgia. The Okefenokee, or Land of the Trembling Earth, is a National Wildlife Reserve covering seven hundred square miles of South Georgia.

While visiting the park, students and chaperones witnessed reptile and alligator shows. Park Naturalist, Ron Taylor, discussed the most familiar resident of the swamp, alligators, as well as the typical snakes found in the swamp. Students were allowed to touch small alligators and snakes if they desired.

Following the reptile show, students meandered throughout the park, exploring several exhibits. One particular exhibit depicted the formation of the Okefenokee Swamp, correlating to the Georgia Quality Core Curriculum. Another showed the history of the Okefenokee Swamp Park. Still another was a tribute to Walt Kelly, creator of the state 'possum, the fictional Pogo, who resides in the swamp in Kelly's famous comic strip.

The tour group also examined the many animals on display in the park, including alligators, alligator snapping turtles, otters, bears, and deer. Many fed the animals, particularly when the group stopped on Pioneer Island. Pioneer Island is a homestead replica depicting life in the 1800s in the swamp. The homestead includes goats, chickens, and, of course, alligators. Students and chaperones arrived at Pioneer Island by way of train. Along the train route, the group was shown the history of the swamp's inhabitants. The group viewed a Seminole chickee, or shelter, which they compared to a Cherokee shelter. The group also learned about logging in the Okefenokee. Forestry continues to play a major part in Georgia's economy, and students learned about "catfacing" and using stills to separate the elements of tree sap.

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Several participants enjoyed a boat ride through the swamp.

The highlight of the day was the boat trip out into the swamp. Much of the boat canal system follows the original Seminole waterways. Expert guides explained the many uses of native plants, pointed out native animals and insects and even offered samples of real swamp water.

Students attending the Okefenokee Swamp trip included: Blake Allen, Kristen Bland, Megan Connor, Erika Eicher, Travis Fielder, Brittany Gay, Whitney Hillman, Brianna Hollimon, Eddie Ivey, Jonathan Ivey, Erica Bettross, Lauren Key, Kirk Lovett, Krystle Luckey, Shanice McKinney, Kristen Murphy, Emily Neal, Carol Poss, Brianna Price, Arsenio Lewis, Michael Usry, Shayna Woodham, Anthoney Brown, Sara Weaver, Blake Usry, and Zach Washington. Parents, family members and teachers on the trip included Elizabeth Cooper, Barbara Johnson, Patricia Connor, James Bland, Tiffany Bland, Brenda Bettross, Shaun Daniels, Eddie Ivey, Sr., Neal Tam, Connie Tam, Caitlin Tam, Bailey Tam and Dorothy Kay.

The Georgia Studies Learning Tour is an extended learning opportunity opened to eighth grade students who meet specified criteria and complete the application process. Students who are selected are eligible to invite their parents and siblings to join the tour.

TMS_okefenokee_group.jpg


The next Georgia Studies Learning Tour trip is planned for early November and includes tours of Turner Field, Grant Park, the Cyclorama, and the CNN Center. Trip coordinators for the GSLT are Dorothy Kay and Neal Tam.



Web posted on Thursday, October 28, 2004


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