January 21, 2009 Edition

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Students plan trip to Spain

Robert Jones (from left) and Dana Ward, Hillcrest High School students, and their distance learning Spanish teacher, Lura Benton, collected donations on Jan. 10 during the junior high basketball tournament at Hillcrest School. Jones and Ward are raising money to make a 10-day trip to Spain and Morocco with Benton in the spring.

Two Hillcrest High School students are working to make a dream trip to Spain and Morocco a reality.

Robert Jones and Dana Ward, who take Spanish through distance learning, are raising money to make a 10-day trip with their instructor, Lura Benton, in March.

Benton is organizing the trip on her own time to provide her students with the experience.

"My travels overseas resulted in my desire to make this opportunity available to my students," she said. "I want to give them a trip of a lifetime."

The Hillcrest students have participated in a variety of activities to help raise the money including a donations stand at the Hillcrest Junior High Invitational Tournament and a cakewalk.

On Saturday, Benton hosted a bowling event at Campus Cove in Walnut Ridge to help raise money for the trip. She invited students from her other distance learning sites in the Jonesboro area to participate.

"The students saw each other in person for the first time even though we all have class together," she said. "It's an interesting situation."

Both Jones and Ward are in Benton's Spanish 3 class. Benton teaches students in nine schools in Arkansas from her site in Maumelle, but admits a bit of favoritism toward her students at Hillcrest.

"Hillcrest has my heart," she said. "There is something about this school that inspires me to become a better teacher.

"These students are fun, positive, intelligent, and the best group of students that I have taught. I am truly surprised how these students and their families have pulled together the money for this trip."

Benton said Carla Crouch, facilitator for the class at Hillcrest, has helped, as well, by seeking sponsorships from local businesses. She said the economy has made raising money a little more difficult, and they are in the final push to try to raise the needed funds.

Those wishing to make a donation for Ward and Jones can contact Benton at 501-803-5426 or e-mail her at lurabenton@hotmail.com.

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