Sixth form students became pioneers for an academy as they carried out conservation projects for deprived children in Costa Rica.

Portslade Aldridge Community Academy’s (PACA) Ryan Rezazadeh, Amy Chapman, Vera Hildebrandt, and Jodie Trussler, accompanied by head of art Sharon Durham and chair of governors Honor Wilson-Fletcher, set off for the two-week to the San Jose region.

The students helped to raise the funding for their trip and were generously supported by a £1,400 donation by Keepmoat, who are working on the £15m rebuild of the Academy’s Chalky Road campus.

PACA Teacher Sharon Durham said: “We wanted to design an experience that would help the students develop and test their entrepreneurial skills, not only on the trip but in the planning as well.

“Jodie was our cultural and political guide, Vera our expert on zoology, ecology and science, Amy led on entrepreneurship and social enterprise and Ryan was our biographer and photographer.”

The first part of the trip was dedicated to helping with conservation work in the Diria National Park, close to the border with Nicaragua.

The second half of the trip took the Pioneers to the Holy Spirit Association of Costa Rica Day Care Centre in the capital city.

The students worked with the children and also helped decorate the nursery and junior school, working on a huge mural depicting the wildlife they had seen the previous week.

Speaking at the end of their stay Jodie said that the trip had definitely changed her thoughts on a future career.

She said: “I love biology and have always appreciated life and plants.

“To see plants you don’t get in England has been amazing.

It’s made me think about taking a gap year volunteering in conservation. I’ve really, really enjoyed it.”

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