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RHS Science Teacher Recalls Hawaii Trip
Riverbank High teacher Kim Theis was fascinated by "spires and buttes" even in high school so when she headed back to college after the 'housewife period' she gravitated to earth science classes and earned degrees in geology and geography at Stanislaus State.

This summer she visited Hawaii with her husband. But this was a Modesto Junior College field trip taught by Garry Hayes on the geology and natural history of the Hawaiian Islands, so they didn't spend so much time lounging on the beaches as dodging red-hot rocks and hopping over razor sharp lava beds.

They have made geologic field trips with MJC before both in the United States and all over the world, including Italy and Switzerland, Scotland and England, Australia, Fiji and New Zealand. These field trips are open to the public.

"My favorite is the Colorado Plateau," Theis said. "I'd like someday to take my students on field trips, to Yosemite maybe or the San Andreas Fault. Our family will make a trip to the Cascades in September."

Her husband is a nurse at Doctors Hospital in Modesto and not quite as passionate about geologic formations, but goes along on the trips anyway.

"He's knowledgeable for a layman. But hanging around with me, he can't help it," she commented. "I'm always attending classes, never stopped since college. I find it difficult not to take them."

Now in her fifth year of teaching earth science at Riverbank High School, including meteorology and astronomy, she notes the Big Island of Hawaii has five volcanoes.

"They are holding up each other. Keeping each other from falling into the sea and being eroded away. They have really fiery volcanoes coming up through the mantle which erupt as the Pacific Plate moves across the hot spot," she said. "The Big Island is the youngest. The other islands used to be as big."

Theis has been visiting Hawaii twice a year for some time but thinks she'll have to cut back to once, maybe go back to the Colorado Plateau or perhaps the Bahamas.

"I like scuba diving, she explained. "I also like observing nature and seeing spectacular things, the Yosemite granite domes and the volcanoes on the east side of the Sierras, like Mammoth and the Long Valley Caldera - and Mount Shasta.

"Mammoth and Shasta are highly active volcanoes," she added. "It's a toss up which will be the first to erupt next. Mammoth erupted 750 years ago and threw ash as far as Kansas. It will depend on atmospheric conditions how a Mammoth or Shasta eruption affects this side of the Sierras. It would be bigger than Mt. Helens in 1982."