Friday, May 12th, 2017.

Excelsior’s Iceland party planning their expedition – left to right: Dean Campbell, Brandon Winkworth, Kieran Todd, Graeme MacDonald, Katrin Mihaloba and Dean Crawford. 

The land of fire and ice beckons for a dozen Excelsior Academy pupils deep into preparations to tackle some of the world’s most breathtaking terrain.

Geography teacher Graeme MacDonald is leading the expedition to Iceland next month which will see the party go glacier walking, visit natural thermal springs, a geothermal power station and see the active volcano which brought European air traffic to a halt during an eruption seven years ago.

The pupils are raising the final cash they need to part-fund their trip to tackle Iceland’s rocky interior, used as a training ground by NASA to prepare its astronauts for their Moon landings.

Iceland has been a theme of classroom learning for the party who fly off to the capital Reykjavik on June 25th.

Graeme said: “Iceland is an amazing country which I’ve been lucky enough to visit. It’s totally unique and if you like geography, it is the place in the world you have to see.

“When I was there I really wanted to give our pupils the opportunity to go there. The weather will be like a British autumn day when we go and it will hardly ever get dark in the summer when we are that far north.

“We’ll be visiting the Blue Lagoon natural hot spring, we’ll be going on a glacier hike one afternoon and to see a geothermal power station.

“For some of our pupils, it will be their first trip outside the UK – what a first country to visit!”

Excelsior Academy sponsor Lord Laidlaw part-funded the pupils’ expedition with contributions from the Andrew Croft Memorial Fund and Frederick Soddy Trust.

Pupils have designed and printed special Excelsior Academy T-shirts to sell to help fund their trip, sporting the new school logo, which can be worn in PE lessons. T-shirts are still available to buy by contacting Mr MacDonald.

“We’ve still got about £1,500 to raise and we’re thinking about doing a sponsored sleep over within the school grounds in a tent, some kind of rough sleeping in a cardboard box or sleeping bags to give us the experience of being outdoors before we go to Iceland,” said Graeme.