Northwest Passage students explore the world

Students at Northwest Passage High School, Coon Rapids, didn’t just spend their summer going to the beach, the mall or hanging with friends, they once again spent part of their summer exploring their world.

Northwest Passage Charter High School students during a week-long trip to Yellowstone National Park.
Northwest Passage Charter High School students during a week-long trip to Yellowstone National Park.

NWPHS has been offering students the opportunity to visit new places and study through the lens of experience since its inception 14 years ago by offering field studies they call expeditions.

Expeditions are out of school travel opportunities that range from one to seven nights and include visits to local camps, wilderness trips, service experiences, urban immersions and even international journeys.

Expeditions are connected to curriculum either as an extension of a class or as a stand-alone credit, according to Director Peter Wieczorek.

To participate students need to complete and application and be in good academic standing, but there is no cost to parents, Wieczorek said.

This summer students participated in a balance of local, regional and national trips. The local trips included an Urban Art Crawl that investigated and analyzed art in and around the Twin Cities, plus a service expedition with the Minnesota Literacy Council where students read to and had conversations with recent immigrants to Minnesota.

The regional trips included week-long backpacking and camping trips along the north shore of Minnesota’s Superior Hiking Trail and the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Both trips focused on Lake Superior geology and ecosystems, as well as group travel skills and minimum impact camping.

The national trip took students all the way out to Wyoming and a visit to Yellowstone National Park. This week-long adventure included a stay in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota before spending five days in America’s first national park.

While at Yellowstone students capped a year-long wolf studies project by interviewing biologists and researcher responsible for the wolf reintroduction and ongoing management in the greater Yellowstone area.

Upcoming expeditions this school year include trips to YMCA Camp Icaghowan, Washington D.C., Canyon Lands National Park in Utah, winter camping in the Boundary Waters, dog sledding, presenting at the National Service Learning Conference in Denver, Colo., and studying the coastal ecosystem outside New Orleans, La.

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