Pleasant Plains teacher & students win trip-of-a-lifetime

PLEASANT PLAINS -- A Region 8 teacher is one of only 9 in the country to win a rare international trip for her and four of her students.  Karen Wells is headed to South Africa thanks to Discovery Education.  That's exciting enough, but finding out just who's going with her--well it's the stuff dreams are made of.

A gymnasium packed with students at Midland High School hung on every word as plans for an international trip to South Africa unfolded.   Library media specialist, journalism, language and composition teacher Karen Wells found out she won a trip to South Africa this summer through a simple phone call.

"Just stunned and then of course, my mind is racing about how would I ever pick four kids," said Wells.  "We have such great kids here.  How would would I ever just pick four?"

As it turned out, Wells wouldn't have to pick...the selection process for four student slots started with an essay.  Fourteen students responded.

"I just started writing from my heart and I wrote what I was thinking," explained Danae Sellers.  "Also I talked about why I really wanted to go on this and how it would benefit me.  I'm just really excited about it.  So I just put my heart on paper."

Each student was also interviewed by individuals from outside the community.

"It was just amazing," said Meagan Martin.  "I had no idea something like this could come to our school and we don't have that much diversity here in little Pleasant Plains."

It all started at the Discovery website.  Karen Wells saw an announcement for Discovery Student Adventures and a trip taking them to Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa.

"It was just a challenge and I love challenges," explained Wells.

About a week ago, Wells, a teacher for 31 years at Midland, found out they'd won and all kinds of adventures awaited them.

"You always see Feed the Children infomercials and things like that," said Kelby Jones.  "Something that I would love to be able to say, I've done that and I'm also really excited about the shark cage."

Getting up close and personal with sharks is one of many adventures awaiting the group leaving on June second.

Right now they're just getting over all the excitement of the announcement itself.

"I was so excited and have not stopped thinking about it since last Wednesday," said Niki Pulliam.  "I've been so stressed about it. This is it. This is my time to shine and i'm finally, finally going to get to live my dream."

Living out their dreams is exactly right.  The cost of the trip for each student is valued at $7,000.  But no doubt the memories will be priceless.