June 15, 1998
Tolt students on the move
Sixth graders visit port, go whale watching
by Teresa O'Shea
Special to the Valley View
On May 5, over 200 sixth grade students from Tolt Middle school participated in a field trip to the Port of Seattle. Students were accompanied by eight certificated staff, an educational assistant and nearly 30 volunteers. The Port provides harbor tours and airport tours free of charge for students residing in the state.
Four school buses filled to capacity with anxious students departed Tolt at 8:30 a.m. and arrived at Pier 55 on Alaskan Way one hour later. Students with their assigned chaperones took a walking tour of the port for nearly an hour. By 10:30, students were filing onto the Argosy's Spirit of Seattle vessel. During the harbor tour, the students learned about Seattle's historic waterfront. Learning how a port works, connecting people and products to destinations around the globe, identifying countries that use the harbor and recognizing products exported and imported were discussed during the trip.
While cruising Elliott Bay, passengers had the opportunity to view the spectacular panoramic background of the majestic Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges while enjoying a first-hand look at one of the world's largest shipping terminals. The cruise came to an end at noon. The group headed toward Waterfront Park for picnic lunches or nearby restaurants for fresh seafood. After lunch, there was an opportunity to shop at the retail waterfront stores.
On Sunday, May 31, "Team Smurf" students, parents and teachers sailed through the San Juan Islands searching for whales. "Team Smurf" is a sixth grade team consisting of 55 students and two teachers at Tolt. Students and chaperones traveled north to the marina in Everett. By 8 a.m., everyone was embarking the Mosquito Fleet vessel.
While cruising toward the San Juan Islands, passengers viewed seals, sea lions, porpoises, eagles and blue heron. These sea-dwelling creatures were witnessed as the boat cruised by Whidbey Island and Friday Harbor. Then excitement soared on the observation decks when the first Orcas were spotted around noon. Passengers were delighted for over two hours as the whales breached, spouted and waved their fins.
Passengers received informative facts about the whales and other wildlife from the onboard naturalist. Students and parents had many questions about Orca migration patterns and breeding behaviors. Everyone was saddened to see the day come to an end. It was a special trip that will bring fond memories for all participants for a lifetime.