The trip of a lifetime
During the Summer holidays 18 Clarence Valley high school students took part in a three week adventure to California, where they visited San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The group from Grafton High, St Andrews, McCauley Catholic College and South Grafton High left Brisbane Airport on December 27 with 22 other students.
Organiser Mary Wilcox, who works for the Department of Education and Training, said she had a fantastic time.
"I was surprised when we visited Clairmont High how into their marching band and cheerleading the American students were. It was just like TV," she said.
"But (it) was run like Acmena with the gates shutting at 7.30am and opening at 2.30pm."
Grafton High student Kale Newmann, 17, said visiting the school made him happy to live in Australia.
"There was razor wire around the fences and it was like the kids were in jail, there is nothing like that here," he said.
The group also made a day trip to Tijuana, Mexico. The youngest of the students 13-year-old Amanda Gillies, was shocked by the poverty.
"Donkeys were in the streets and people tried to pull you into their stores," she said.
The students were billeted out to families at Clairmont high school.
"Mine were just so nice and out of this trip I've made life long friends," 17-year-old Grafton High student Luke Nixon said.