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WEST SHAMOKIN: Teacher leads students on life-changing trips

by VINCE PASSERINI, Gazette Student News Reporter on January 31, 2014 11:00 AM

RURAL VALLEY — Ever wish you could travel to far-away places and experience new cultures?

At West Shamokin High School and all Armstrong School District High Schools, this has become a serious possibility for students. Randy Cloak, a social studies teacher at West Shamokin, has created a global classroom in which he takes senior high students all over the globe.

Cloak uses the Education First Tour Company to organize his tours. These trips allow students to experience foreign cultures while at the same time having an amazing and enjoyable experience.

[PHOTO: Randy Cloak, at left, posed with members of the World Travel Club to Berlin during the summer of 2013. (Vince Passerine/West Shamokin High School photo)]

Cloak has also worked with the school district and has made it possible for students to earn half a credit by attending this tour.

Students read a book about a place they will be traveling to, then write an essay on how they are going to use what they learned on their tour.

While on tour, students are to make a multimedia presentation with mini iPads provided through the ASD Foundation grant from the school district, including pictures and videos of their trip. Through these tours, Cloak hopes to inspire students and offer them a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

[PHOTO: Students from West Shamokin High School toured many World War II sites across Europe with social studies teacher Randy Cloak including Hitler’s Eagles Nest retreat in Bavaria. (Vince Passerine/West Shamokin High School photo)]

I personally went on Cloak’s trip to Western Europe last summer. This World War II-themed tour included visits to England, France, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg and Belgium.

I have been waiting to write about this amazing program for some time and now that everything is settling down at West Shamokin, I have the opportunity.

I had an amazing time traveling across Western Europe and attained incredible experiences that I will remember and treasure for the rest of my life.

Everything on my tour was astounding, from climbing the stairs of the Eiffel Tower to walking through an authentic Holocaust concentration camp, to hearing Big Ben strike noon while eating a fish and chips lunch in downtown London, to the breathtaking view from Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest in Bavaria, to tasting authentic Belgian chocolate, to seeing the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, to feeling the warm sand between my toes on Omaha Beach in Normandy, in front of a remnant of the Berlin Wall.

To experience the culture and way of life so different than the one you have been used to all your life is something words cannot explain. The world is a big place full of astounding and remarkable things and the opportunity to gain firsthand experience is priceless.

I am very thankful and appreciative of Cloak for providing me with this life-changing opportunity to see the things I never thought I ever would.

Cloak is planning a 2014 trip to Greece, Italy and Spain and a 2015 trip to Hawaii, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.

Students and parents are encouraged to contact Randall R. Cloak at West Shamokin High School for more information.

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