PPS Students Take a Trip to Puerto Rico


Students and chaperones posing in front of an “I heart San Juan” sign in Puerto Rico.

Peoria Public School students and teachers pose for a picture in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

On January 12th, 2023, Richwoods students accompanied by six Peoria High students two Manual students, and five chaperones, embarked on a trip to the beautiful islands of Puerto Rico. This opportunity had largely been due to grant-funding through Peoria Public Schools.

The first night of their arrival, the students went on a city walk and tour of the Puerto Rican capital: San Juan. After this, they went to eat at a small authentic Puerto Rican restaurant where they ate rice with peas, chicken, and caramel flan for dessert. At the end of the night, the students and chaperones went back to their hotel: Hyatt Place Bayamon.

Day two of the trip consisted of much more walking through two of Puerto Rico’s old military forts: Castillo San Cristobal and Castillo San Felipe del Morro. The students and chaperones attended a tour of these two forts and were able to learn a lot about the rich history Puerto Rico has to offer. After these tours, the students and chaperones ventured above the trees on a ziplining tour. Prior to this trip, none of the students had ever had the opportunity to zipline before. The day then ended with a short pit-stop to a scenic beach.

Day three of the trip was very action-packed. It started with a drive up through the Yunque Rainforest to see a beautiful waterfall and a climb to the top of the Yokahu observation tower. Afterwards, they went to Luquillo beach for a few hours of rest and relaxation.

After their trip to the beach, the chaperones and students embarked on a kayaking trip to one of the three bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico. They kayaked in pairs of two down a canal as the sun was setting and ended up in a bay by the time it was dark out. The kayaking guides turned off all the lights- that were used to navigate- and covered the chaperones and students with a tarp to maximize the level of darkness and ensure that the bioluminescent algae would glow brightly. The students and chaperones were then instructed to put their hands and legs deep in the water and move them around in order to see the water glow. They were even told to splash themselves and each other to see the glowing algae on their bodies.

Day four was spent almost entirely on a boat and in the ocean! After a quick trip to a strip of small shops and food stands, the students and chaperones boarded a boat that took them away from the mainland and out to one of the smaller Puerto Rican islands! It was here that they were taught how to correctly wear their snorkeling gear and try it out. Some of the students, including Jack Oakford, Dalia Quintero and Kendyl Halsey, reported seeing a stingray swimming along the ocean floor.

After this, they were all called back to the boat for a quick lunch and a trip deeper into the ocean to a place with more vivid wildlife. There they saw turtles, fish, and stingrays. After all the snorkeling, the students were allowed to jump from the top of the boat down to the ocean below, and after a boat ride back to the mainland, all the students and chaperones went out to eat one last dinner!

The last day of their trip was spent on one final trip to the shopping town area of San Juan, and then promptly to the airport where their bus driver Miguel (Micky) Gomez cried with tears of sadness to be leaving this group.

This trip consisted of many new and delicious foods and beverages, new and exciting experiences, a lot of shopping, and new friendships formed between the Peoria Public Schools high school students. It was certainly the trip of a lifetime for these students and teachers. If you would like to see more photos from this trip, you can visit @richwoodstravels account on Instagram.