Washington, D.C. trip approved for Parker Junior High honors students

Eighth graders in Parker Junior High’s National Junior Honor Society will have the opportunity to spend their 2019 spring break exploring the nation’s capital.
The District 161 School Board approved plans Tuesday for the school’s first field trip to Washington, D.C. from March 22 to 29.
Students will visit historic sites and museums including the White House, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Pentagon Memorial and Howard University. They will also participate in a service learning project and attend a dinner cruise.
The trip will be about $1,035 to $1,085 per student, with student fundraising planned to offset some of the cost. Private security during the trip, including overnight hotel security, along with admission to the monuments and events are included in the price.
Parker Principal Fred Hunter said the trip is being offered to the 79 students in NJHS rather than all 330 eighth graders because the smaller headcount will be more practical and manageable for a first go-around.
“I think it’s an exciting opportunity for our students but also for us as a staff,” Hunter said. “We haven’t taken a trip like this with a large number of students out of state, and it’s multiple days, and it will give us an opportunity to evaluate in terms of what went well, what sites worked with our students and help us plan for the future.”
One chaperone for every 10 students will go on the trip along with at least one administrator, Hunter said. 
Superintendent Dana Smith suggested discussing plans for future trips during an April 2019 board meeting to revisit concerns about excluding eighth graders who are not in NJHS.
“We could start those conversations next spring right after the trip when everything is fresh,” he said. “Other students will have almost a year to get fundraising in place, to start thinking about it with their families.”
Board President Michelle Hoereth said the 2019 trip is being approved as a pilot program with intentions to build on it in the future and seek ways to be more inclusive.
“I would like to see what a plan or proposal looks like for next year because this is late for the planning anyway for this, so hopefully we get students and parents who will be able to do this,” Hoereth said. “I would love for all of our eighth grade students to have the opportunity to experience this trip.”
Hoereth also said having a trip planned earlier next year would be beneficial so the school and park districts would have time to consider ways to assist with fundraising.

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