Mr. Kovnat organizes his 21st foreign class trip


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Mr. Kovnat organized a class trip to Costa Rica this past summer in the aftermath of the pandemic.

In 1982, Mr. Bill Kovnat organized his first trip overseas with Cherry Hill East students. Almost 40 years later, Kovnat is assembling his 21st trip of the program. 

Ever since the beginning, Kovnat, the East photography teacher, has worked with Education First (EF) to provide students a memorable trip each year. 

“The company I work with is very diligent about, number one, being safe, and, number two, making trips that [are] really awesome. Everybody’s having a great time and the support staff is incredible.”

Kovnat explains that the program had first approached him with an invitation to chaperone student travels decades ago. Appreciating their student priorities and the promising experiences, Kovnat has joined over twenty foreign trips with East students, and plans to continue to do so. 

He mentions his first trip inviting over 60 students with staff headed to Italy. Past trips marked the spots of England, France, Austria, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Morocco, and Monica. However, as years passed, the number has greatly declined due to the lack of awareness of the program and the recent pandemic. 

“Hopefully we get a lot of people to sign up again. Everyone is welcome, and I’d like to put it out there and try to make it work. It’s not always easy,” Kovnat says. He added that despite this number, he found that working with small groups also allowed much freedom and quick tours, working around this barrier.

This recent summer break, Kovnat and his unique group of 14 students visited Costa Rica following the absent years from the pandemic. For the upcoming trip, Kovnat decided his next location — Belize. 

The annual trip is open to all students with a varying cost each year, according to the location. Regardless, the trip expenses are always all-inclusive, covering the meals, flight, residence, and tour guides. He emphasizes that the cost ensures the safety and security as well. 

Kovnat says, “If you put aside the value as far as the money, what you’re getting out of it- it’s such a positive experience.”

He recalls previous trips to have involved snorkeling, zip-lining, cooking lessons, and much more, and expects the quality to uphold for Belize. 

Continuing this tradition for almost four decades, Kovat explains his purpose and passion for this program. 

“I enjoy doing it because I love taking a trip and watching how we reactivate the awesome experience year after year,” says Kovnat.

Aside from his personal experience, he wishes upon the students to truly gain unforgettable memories. He highlights the importance of learning new cultures from eating new foods, talking to foreign people to shopping in traditional stores, and in the midst of it all- making new friends.

“You basically get the thrill of what it’s like to be part of a different world, and that’s pretty crucial.”