Nine South Garland High School students will never forget their 2017 Spring Break field trip thanks to Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. This memorable experience started with an idea from AP Environmental Science teacher Amie Torres.
“We were discussing populations, and when I started talking about different things from the news, I realized that many of my kids have never left Garland,” she said. “They did not understand why we talk about riptides and tidal waves, or why populations in different areas are going down. My husband is a teacher at Sachse and had been looking at field trips. Since this is my first year teaching this particular course, I decided to go all in.”
The destination: Disney World, and more specifically, Animal Kingdom. Torres fondly remembered visiting as a child and thought everyone deserved to see the happiest place on earth at least once in life. She also knew the location would provide her students many opportunities to connect classroom concepts to the real world.
“We cannot go to the savanna or jungle, but this allows them to see, touch, smell and hear a little piece of the big picture—to really understand human population, biodiversity and terrestrial biomes,” Torres explained. “Disney’s Youth Education Series is also really good at pushing students to bring what they learned back home. What are you doing in your life that is going to impact and make a ripple effect to everyone else?”
With a price tag of $975 per traveler, Torres and her students actively sought opportunities to raise money. They worked concession stands, held fundraisers and asked for donations from friends and family. But as the final payment deadline drew near, many wondered where they would find the remaining funds. Torres took a chance and sent one more donation letter.
“I told them I was going to do everything in my power to get them on this trip,” she remembered. “I spent the day Facebook stalking and googling Mark Cuban and then sent an email at 8 p.m. I figured I’d reach out to someone else the next day.”
In the morning, Torres received a response that asked her to call. She briefly stepped into the hall and received the good news. Cuban agreed to write a check for $6,500.
“I was so overwhelmed and grateful and just ecstatic that these kids get the opportunity to experience something like this,” said Torres.”
With the trip paid in full, attendees were left to anticipate its arrival.
“I am excited to gain a new perspective on environmental challenges that our world faces from the field study we will participate in at Animal Kingdom,” commented senior Anayeli Macias. “I would like to thank Mr. Cuban for giving my classmates and I the opportunity to see the magic of Disney World, which I'm sure we will never forget. We will take more from this trip than just memories, we will gain the importance of what each of us can do to help our environment if we all come together."
Torres believes the biggest lesson that will be learned is to never give up. In addition to this field trip, Cuban also funded equipment for South Garland’s girls basketball program earlier this year.