Two years can seem like an eternity to young people. That’s why students at Miller Junior High School in Aberdeen are going to be learning about patience as they plan and work hard to raise funds for an educational trip to Washington D.C. and New York City in the summer of 2018.
The trip lasts eight days and takes the youths and chaperones to a dizzying array of locations in the two cities. Virtually all of the activities are based on subjects the young travelers study, particularly history and science.
“It’s an amazing itinerary,” said Laura Carle, who teaches mathematics at Miller and is the faculty adviser for this trip. “It would be hard to do it as a family with everything as planned.”
She first took on the responsibility in 2002. Some years were a long visit to Washington D.C. — still highly educational and fun. Capitol Hill, National Cathedral, Library of Congress, Arlington National Cemetery, and some of the Smithsonian museums are among sites the group takes in.
But combined with New York City and such locations as Little Italy, Chinatown, Harlem, Ellis Island, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art it can also be a life-changing experience.
“They have respect for the history, the memorials and everything they see,” Carle said. “It seems to leave a lasting impression. And travel broadens your horizons.”
One of the students who went on the trip in 2014 talked about his experience. Wesley Hayden-Sauer, now in 11th grade, eventually plans to move to Chicago or Houston because both areas are experiencing big booms in technology right now. His interest is in computers.
“The first time walking into Times Square was at night,” he said. “I swear — it was brighter at night than it was during the day.”
Hayden-Sauer can discuss how the historic events on the East Coast are tied to the westward migration as easily as he explains the differences between Italian and American versions of pizza.
“Italian pizza has lots of herbs and vegetables … American pizza has many different meats and cheeses,” he said. “The crust on the pizza we ate in New York was thin and crisp. You don’t find that here.”
Hayden-Sauer also enjoyed the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC.
“It was very interactive and significant because of noted U.S., British and Canadian spies in history,” he said. “But I heard they probably won’t be going there anymore.”
Though many of the students on campus live in homes where their families have incomes at or below poverty levels, enough parents find a way to pay for their children to go. Only about three dozen people can go and that includes adult chaperones. As the local economy faltered years ago, families began struggling to pay for the trip. So it became something offered every two years instead of annually, Carle explained.
Income tax returns are frequent sources of money for these student trips. So are student and family projects. They might create items to sell. And some families struggle harder to raise the money than others. Group fundraisers include dances, car washes, rummage sales and a spaghetti feed and auction, she said.
Cost per student is more than $3,600 for the 2018 trip through World Strides, which specializes in education tours.
“We’ve asked the kids and their parents ‘What should we get rid of?’” Carle said. “They have a hard time choosing something to eliminate.”
Likely to remain in the schedule are visits to Arlington National Cemetery, the National Cathedral and the Holocaust Museum, Carle said.
The students who went on the 2016 trip were especially moved by World War II veterans at the Iwo Jima Marine Memorial. They had the chance to meet a World War II veteran who was in a wheelchair that was being pushed by a Vietnam veteran.
“The kids were very impressed,” Carle said.
She was also surprised at the emotion expressed by some of the youths when they visited the 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon.
“They were pretty much all born after the attacks,” she said. “But it still hit a few of them very hard as they looked around.”
People interested in donating money or otherwise helping with fundraising are asked to contact Carle at (360) 538-2100.