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As 10 seniors began to see the light at the end of the tunnel ahead of graduation, they also felt the familiar glow of the sun on their faces after embarking on the 2015 Oregon-Davis senior trip. Schedules were jam-packed as students visited Hollywood Studios, the Epcot Center, Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios, Animal Kingdom, Blizzard Beach, Cocoa Beach and Capone’s Dinner and Theater over the course of a handful of days in Orlando, Fla. Spirits were as high as the humidity as students tackled each amusement park and attraction with rabid enthusiasm.

Students had several opportunities to experience the wildlife that the sub-tropical Floridian climate had to offer. On the way to the hotel, Delaney Shively identified many different types of cattle, recalling knowledge she gleaned from years of FFA at Oregon-Davis. Within an hour of de-planing, Jack Minter and Dalton Good had already spotted an alligator living under a bridge only a few yards from the hotel. A few days into the trip, many students experienced Kilimanjaro Safari at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, spotting white rhinos, elephants, lions, flamingos, cheetahs and many other exotic animals amidst the colossal West-Africa baobab trees. The week was capped off by a beautiful visit to Cocoa Beach where students enjoyed swimming in the ocean (many for the first time) as well as walking in its wake. There were few occasions to see or experience any fishing, though Cameron Mattson is sure that something large and menacing bumped into his leg about 25 yards off shore.

In terms of meeting new people, Oregon-Davis seniors were not shy about branching out and chatting with other students as well as adults. Dalton Good and the group’s week-long Venezuelan driver, Ray, became fast friends, sharing stories about fishing and what life is like “back home.” At Universal Studios’ Grad Bash, thousands of seniors from all over the country came together to ride roller-coasters, visit attractions, and attend a Trey Songz concert. Carl Shnekenburger, Blake Hurford, Kevin Avery, and Camron Mattson danced the night away at the aforementioned concert and met a lot of people in the crowd, exchanging Snapchat and Instagram accounts as they talked and danced into the night. In dense lines for rides, O-D seniors also joined in chants and loud exchanges of internet memes, leading Blake Hurford to make a lot of new and interesting friends while simply waiting in line. Meanwhile, Delaney Shively and Jack Minter explored all things Harry Potter for the entire duration of the visit.

In a brief, whirlwind tour of central Florida, O-D seniors were happy to experience the climate, wildlife, scenic landscapes, world-class amusement parks, dinner theater, and bevies of multi-cultural interactions that played out. Their positive attitudes and enthusiasm are symbolic of their curiosity, interest, and desire to experience the world beyond graduation. In a matter of weeks, the Oregon-Davis class of 2015 will do just that.