A group of 24 local students are eager for March 14th to arrive. That's when they embark on the trip of a lifetime, departing on a flight direct to Athens, Greece.Six parents, one grandparent, and four trip chaperones will accompany the youth on their 11-day journey. The group will travel with Education First (EF) Tours, a popular student travel company that has been sending young adults on educational tours all over the world for over 40 years.

Linda Casey, mother of an Avon Grove Charter High School senior, is the trip leader for this year's getaway to Greece. She will share her responsibilities with the trip's three other chaperones: Gwen and Dave Galligan, also parents of an AGCHS senior, and Michael Mostello, a teacher at the school. The chaperones are part of a group called "Discovery Drifters" that has had two highly successful trips to Europe with EF Tours during the spring breaks of 2006 and 2007.

A special EF Tour Director will also serve as a guide to the traveling group. He or she will most likely be a native of Greece.

"All EF Tour directors are bilingual and are amazing fountains of information and helpfulness," said chaperone Gwen Galligan. "Our groups become very attached to the tour directors and we are all sad to leave them by the end of the trip."

The "Discovery Drifters" will visit many cultural and historic sites as they tour Greece. Beginning in Athens, the travelers will visit the Plaka District, Hadrian's Arch, and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. They will also have a chance to tour the Olympic Stadium, Omonia and Syntagma Squares, the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and the Temple of Athena Nike.

By day four they will leave the city to set sail on the high seas, embarking on a full-day cruise in the Saronic Gulf, which will take them to the islands of Aegina Poros and Hydra. The next day the students will travel by foot, touring the cities of Delphi and Patras and exploring the Temple of Apollo and the Delphi Museum.

On the sixth day of the trip, the group will make their way to Olympia and Argolida. As they round off a full week in Greece, the they will visit Epidaurus, Mycenae, and Cape Sounion, where they will view the Temple of Poseidon.

The tour group has also opted to add on a three-day trip during which they will spend time cruising around the Greek islands of Mykonos, Rhodes, and Patmos. The travelers will cap off their trip by venturing outside of Greece to the Turkish city of Kusadasi.

It's a full schedule packed with breathtaking views of some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, and glimpses of ancient structures that have survived centuries of wear. Students and chaperones alike are anticipating a trip unlike any other.

"I can't wait to learn more about Greek culture and mythology," said AGCHS senior Tom Prather.

Another student traveler and senior at the charter school, Kellin Casey, expressed enthusiasm about sightseeing on the trip.

"I'm most excited about cruising around the Greek islands and seeing some of the oldest places in the world," she said.

The educational value the students will gain by traveling across the world and viewing the marvels of Greece first-hand is immeasurable, according to Galligan.

"We want to offer exciting, educational destinations, enhancing [the students'] school studies by providing a real-life vision of the world, its people and cultures," she said. "Students come home from these tours with a real sense of empowerment, confidence and desire to see more of the world."

Next spring, the "Discovery Drifters" will journey to Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, and Paris, France. Any local high school student interested in joining the 2009 travel group may e-mail Plowharrow@aol.com or Lindakc756@aol.com for details. A recruitment meeting will be held for the trip on Wednesday, April 16 at AGCHS.

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