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Liberty Elementary teacher gets award to help send students to camp

From left, Liberty Elementary students Cameron Bartlett, Victor Graves and Rommel Griffeth honed their canoeing skills at Camp Killoqua in Stanwood last year. - Photo courtesy of Karrie Valasques
From left, Liberty Elementary students Cameron Bartlett, Victor Graves and Rommel Griffeth honed their canoeing skills at Camp Killoqua in Stanwood last year.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Karrie Valasques

MARYSVILLE — A Liberty Elementary teacher has been named one of eight Snohomish County recipients of the Pilchuck Audubon Society's Classroom Conservation Awards for the 2008-2009 school year.

Karrie Valasques received the $250 award for a second year in a row, and as they did last year, she and two other fifth-grade teachers at Liberty Elementary put those funds toward sending all 75 of their students to Camp Killoqua in Stanwood.

Valasques explained that the three days spent at the end of May at Camp Killoqua qualify for the Classroom Conservation Award by providing outdoor education for their students, many of whom would not be able to afford the trip otherwise.

"Other schools in the district have taken part in this, so we wanted our kids to have the same opportunity," Valasques said. "They get to do scientific pond and forest studies, where they learn about nature and animals and the cycle of life. They also get to go canoeing, rock-climbing and do other activities that they don't exactly get to do every day."

The total cost to send all 75 students to camp, plus 12 chaperones, is approximately $8,000. Parents are asked to pay part of this cost, but some simply can't, while others can only afford to pay a certain amount.

"Some ask for scholarships," said Valasques, who noted that the students do a lot of work to raise the needed funds themselves, by selling See's Candies in the community, as well as popcorn and ice cream to their fellow students at school.

"They really participate, because they see the reward," Valasques said. "They work hard to get there, and they work hard when they get there. They have to sweep, mop and do other chores. They're responsible for their own environment out there. It builds great teamwork skills."

Valasques expressed gratitude for the Classroom Conservation Award, and added that her students feel the same way about it, because "when you raise the money yourself, you really realize how a contribution like that can make a dent in your goal."

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