The Liberty Panthers’ Summertime Adventures


From the east coast to the western plains, Liberty Panthers have been all over the United States this summer.

Serena Caldarola, an 8th grader, took a trip out west in mid-July, traveling through Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho. After a flight from St. Louis to Salt Lake City, Utah, she headed north through Wyoming, experiencing the Grand Teton mountains and Yellowstone National Park.

There, she encountered many species of wildlife, including bison and bears. Her favorite part of Yellowstone was the boiling mud pots and the iconic geysers. After leaving the National Park, she traveled through Idaho where she saw many cows and sheep. When asked about Idaho she said with a shrug: “There were no potatoes in Idaho.”

After leaving Wyoming, she drove through Utah again, stopping by Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. Returning to Salt Lake City, she saw the Mormon Capital of the U.S. and flew back to Saint Louis.

Back east, Abby Grotefendt, 8th grade, took an exhilarating trip to Tennessee. Abby stayed in a cabin in the Smoky Mountains for a week with her family, and went on many fascinating adventures while at it— Abby even got the opportunity to zip line with her family. “It was really interesting and scary, but it got fun,” she said. While out and about, they even saw a bear, which was only 20 feet away. She a got to go mini golfing and ate lots of delicious funnel cakes.

Further south, Briana Miller, 8th grade, traveled to Okaloosa Island, Florida, with her aunt. Briana and her aunt got to relax along the beach, explore the beach’s pier, and go snorkeling in the salty ocean together. During their snorkeling expedition, they even saw shark fins in the water. Along with seeing the wild sharks, they spotted a sea turtle. “Sea turtles- they’re so fast …the captain called them sea t- because you couldn’t say their name fast enough,” Briana said. Overall, Briana had a wonderful summer adventure with her aunt.

Seventh grader Isabelle Appiah took a relaxing trip to San Diego, California this past June. She took an eight hour flight to get there, and spent it with her mother, father, and two brothers. While in sunny California, they had the opportunity to visit the iconic San Diego Zoo. Isabelle didn’t have a favorite animal that she saw, but she did get to see tigers, alligators, and hippos. They ate lots of burgers and fries, and delicious tacos at Mexican restaurants. Unfortunately, Isabelle and her family had quite a bit of troubles with their hotel. “The hotel was a scam,” she said. They had to swap hotels and it took her family five long hours to get a refund for their previous hotel. She spent lots of time on the beach, which was her favorite part of her trip. Almost every day she got to take lots of walks around the stunning beach. “Just get out there and explore,” said Isabelle.

Down south, 7th grader Aidon Cook took a two-month vacation to northern Mexico for a family reunion this past summer. He spent three long weeks in the car with his mother, father, and four brothers to get there. They rode motorcycles on sand dunes, swam in the ocean, and got to taste fried slug. “It was actually really good,” Aidon said. “It tastes like shrimp, or frog legs.” He also got to try horse riding, which was a fun, exciting new experience.

The Panthers were all over in 2021, and came back to Illinois with many exciting stories and experiences to share with us all.