Hoopa High Students Climb Pyramids in Mexico

Hoopa Valley High School Spanish Club students; Shayna McCullough, Chanelle McCullough, Joey Mularky, Levi Pole, Joshua McKnight, Adrian Rodriguez, Maya Mollier, Harlee Grant, Hanna Mapatis, Lucas Burns, Nanya Morton, Ellen Sanders Raigosa and Macey Matilton traveled to Mexico to learn and practice Spanish while exploring the sites. Others who traveled with them were Irma Matilton, Samantha Shull, Matt Nagel and Marcy Casey. Here they are shown atop an ancient temple that overlooks the mayan ruins of Coba.

By KRISTAN KORNS, Two Rivers Tribune

Students from Hoopa Valley High School’s Spanish Club reaped the benefit of their fundraising work when they traveled to Mexico for a week and a half.

Spanish Teacher Matt Nagel said, “I think one of the coolest things about the trip is that the kids earned it. They raised money for two years as they learned how to work towards a long term goal.”

The students staffed concession stands during sports games to raise money for the trip and said they were grateful for all of the help they received.

Adrian Rodriguez said, “The community really did help us out.”

For some of the students, it was their first trip outside of California and for others it was also their first ride on an airplane.

Lucas Burns, who helped fundraise by barbequing at games, said, “It was my first time leaving California. I really learned a lot of Spanish when I was there.”

The students had to use their Spanish language skills while they stayed in the city of Tulum in the state of Quintana Roo, on the Caribbean coast.

Hannah Mapatis said, “We talked to people and almost everyone there just spoke Spanish, so we spoke Spanish the whole trip. I improved a lot; that was cool.”

One of the highlights of the trip was their visit to the ancient Mayan city of Cobá. It has dozens of temple pyramids that tower over the city’s ruins.

“We got to climb the main Cobá pyramid. It’s so tall and the steps are pretty steep,” Mapatis said. “You could see the world curve if you looked out into the distance.”

Burns said, “They had a really big temple on top.”

The students said iguanas were everywhere and they even ran into a giant snake near their hotel.

Nanya Morton said, “There was a python loose at the street fair and we didn’t know it was wild at first.”

J.T. McKnight said, “We just thought it was part of an act until someone yelled for help.”

When they weren’t climbing pyramids, exploring Mayan ruins, or spotting wild pythons, the students swam in the warm Caribbean Sea and played soccer on the beach with other visitors from around the world.

Rodriguez said, “Our hotel was just a couple hundred feet from the beach. You just had to walk outside and you’re there.”

They also crowned Levi Pole as King of Tacos, when he beat the previous record of 17 tacos.

Nagel said, “Every time we go down there, we have a taco eating contest and Levi is the new ‘Rey del Tacos’ – he ate 21 tacos and a torta.

Pole said he still hasn’t gotten his crown and added, “I really liked it. The cenotes – underground lakes filled with crystal-clear water were great, and my first plane ride was fun.”

All of the students said they learned a lot on the trip, using their Spanish and seeing and experiencing new things.

They also expressed thanks for everyone who helped make the trip a success.

Joey Malarkey said, “We’d like to thank the community for all their support along the way.”

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