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Classroom without walls

Tulita students need money for Antarctica expedition

Jennifer McPhee
Northern News Services

Fort Norman (Oct 21/02) - Two top Tulita high school students and their teacher are scrambling to raise $34,000 to embark on an expedition to Antarctica during their Christmas vacation.

"We are working very hard to raise every penny that we can," said Chief Albert Wright school teacher Liz Halina.

"The only thing holding us back is the money."

The goal of the trip, arranged by the Ottawa-based organization "Students on Ice" is to introduce students to a place different than theirs, which faces similar political and environmental problems.

So far, they have raised about $4,700. The students, Megan and Kerri McPherson, raised part of that through bake sales.

The cousins, who regularly win the school's monthly academic awards, will be among Chief Albert Wright's first graduates in the coming years.

"They have set themselves apart in this town," said Halina. "They are not getting into trouble, they do well in school."

Even going to a place like Yellowknife is a big deal for students from a fly-in community like Tulita, said Halina.

"But Antarctica is monumental."

If they can find the funds by Nov. 15, the girls will board their expedition vessel in Argentina and sail across the Drake Passage toward their first landing, the south Shetland Islands.

Along with hiking up a small ice cap, penguin and whale watching, the students will hear lectures by experts on topics ranging from glaciology to a history of exploration. They'll also take part in a shipboard student forum -- and the forum's results will be presented at the 2003 antarctic Treaty meeting.

"It's exciting going somewhere I've never been before," said Megan.

Kerri, an aspiring cartoonist, has never seen the ocean. "I want to the penguins," she said. "And all the glaciers."