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ESJH students fundraise for unique educational experience in Europe

RESERVE — East St. John High teacher Derron Cook said travel broadens horizons for students who feel limited to a certain life path.

Cook is bringing four students to explore European culture in Paris, Florence and Rome over Easter break as part of East St. John High’s first travel abroad trip.

Over the course of the April 11-19 excursion, students will pose in front of the Eiffel Tower, admire Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, walk across a medieval Florentine bridge and stand where Julius Caesar delivered political speeches.

The journey comes with a hefty price tag — $3,700 per person — but Cook said the group is determined to cut expenses through fundraising and community outreach.

“A lot of people look at the cost, which is important,” Cook said.

“However, I’m not that type of person. If I have something in mind, I push for it. That’s what we want to teach students: possibility. We want them to explore possibilities and not allow what appears to be your circumstance to hinder you.”

Cook suspects local crime rates would fall significantly if youth realized the world is much bigger than St. John the Baptist Parish, and there are millions of people living millions of different lifestyles worldwide.

ESJH senior Noah Williams wants to learn more about the world so he can pass knowledge down to future generations.

Logan Mitchell, Noah Williams and Rosa Singleton are three of the students attending ESJH’s first trip to Europe this April.

“We really are stuck here, to be honest,” Williams said. “We don’t understand other places, and the ability to learn about that and experience that atmosphere is important to us, growing up. Maybe some day, we’ll want to teach our kids these things and bring them to these places ourselves.”

Rosa Singleton is excited to experience Parisian culture and take a look at how some of the most famous French foods are made. This trip will be her first experience venturing outside of the country.

Senior Logan Mitchell fondly remembers a trip she took to Hawaii when she was in sixth grade, and she’s ready to make more unforgettable memories.

“Hawaii is the furthest I’ve gone, and that’s still in the United States,” Mitchell said. “You don’t see many people going out of the country at the age of 17. It’s a great thing to explore new arts, new people, new adventure, new food and new music. Here, you go down the street and see the same people you see every day.”

Mitchell looks forward to learning about the arts through visits to the Louvre Museum, the Sistine Chapel and other historic sites.

Mitchell’s grandmother, Angel Spann, said the first foundation for a child’s future is family, and the second is school.

“As we know, education goes beyond the classroom,” Spann said.

“They read about it and see videos, but the greatest form of education is exposure. To think that our little River Parish babies will be exposed to far greater history means a lot. It takes money to send them, so sponsorship is greatly needed.”

According to Cook about $1,500 has been raised thus far through food boils held throughout the community.

Ray Williams, father of Noah Williams, has provided his cooking talents, and he’s been happy to see the interest community members are taking in furthering education.

Cook, who also serves as director of local nonprofit Motionphics in Action, would also like to see sponsorships from businesses.

“Around Christmas, you see people paying layaways for others and giving back,” Cook said. “We want to see the same excitement for education.”

Those who want to help can make checks payable to East St. John High School, with Paris-Rome trip in the memo section.

Donated money goes directly to students’ accounts.

Donations may also be submitted using the following links:

https://personal.eftours.com/secure/make-donation.aspx?poid=DDBF7DEA

https://personal.eftours.com/secure/make-donation.aspx?poid=DDBD5A37

For more information, call 912-604-6348.