Before last year, my eighth-graders would have attended the local middle school. But after recent school actions in Chicago, Bret Harte Elementary was mandated to expand from being a pre-k to sixth grade, to adding on seventh and eighth grades. My 32 eighth-graders are the first graduating class.
My students are eager and energetic; they want to see what the world has to offer.
However, 80% of them are considered low income. For many of them, this would be the trip of a lifetime. Many have never flown anywhere before. We are a small school, but part of one of the largest city public school systems in the US. Some of our students struggle with paying for basic, local field trips. It is not rare for staff members to provide clothing for a few of our students. We have been having small fundraisers since the first month of school- a car wash, face-painting at a local book fair, taffy apples sales, and bake sales. This has been great for morale and the students are determined to work for their funding. We had 21 of our 30+ students show up on a Saturday morning to wash cars for two hours, many of them with family members. However, this type of funding is not enough when we have a handful of students who can pay nothing towards the trip.
A trip to Washington, D.C., has become a rite of passage for many 8th graders. (I went to DC when I was in 8th grade back in 1992!) Many other schools in our system organize a trip to DC for their 8th graders. When we started planning for this 8th grade class months ago, the first thing that came up was "We're taking them to DC!" That was what was going to open their eyes, expose them to the workings of our country, and provide them an opportunity to spur so many other learning moments. The students will learn plenty, academically, about the legislative system, the organization of our government, the monuments that represent so many lives lost and what that means. We have an inside tour of the White House promised as well and have the hope of meeting the president! Beyond all of this, the students will learn about a city outside of their own, social skills that are needed to succeed beyond school, and the dedication and hard work it takes to accomplish a trip like this.
If you can help, in any way, you will be broadening the horizons of these students.
You will be providing experiential learning that is priceless. We recently finished a novel set in Vietnam in 1975- just think about how they will react to being able to touch the names of those soldiers on the Vietnam Memorial. You will be opening up an entire new world for most of the students by supporting our trip. Thank you for anything you can donate.
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