Seniors Travel to the Heart of the Rockies

The Summer Senior Capstone Travel course took students on an epic adventure to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks, blending classroom work at Punahou with a 10-day expedition in the Rocky Mountain West.

During the trip, the 24 students partnered with the Teton School of Science to investigate the unique wildlife, distinctive geology and rich history of the two iconic national parks – a stark contrast to the tropical landscapes of Hawai‘i. While hiking and exploring the stunning summer landscape, the group spotted animals, including a moose, camped in Yellowstone, took part in invasive weed removal to help native plants, studied the aquatic species of Jackson Lake, sampled the local cuisine and even experienced a summer snowfall. 

Students were accompanied by Academy faculty Dan Gaudiano and Taylor Hamilton and grade 8 science teacher Joanna Meany. “Yellowstone is a volcanic hot spot like Hawai‘i, but so different and so much colder,” said Gaudiano, who developed the course. “Going there and seeing intact food webs with bears, coyotes and elk allows students to be curious observers of the natural world and creates a greater sense of caring for the environment, both there and back home.”

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