Hartford Students Organize To Save Their Field Trip
May 28, 2009
Over the years, Naylor Elementary School's eighth-grade field trip has been described in a lot of different ways, but it's safe to say "civics lesson" wasn't one of them.
This year, students graduating from the Hartford school wouldn't take no for an answer when they were told a few weeks ago that the traditional year-end day at High Meadow Resort in East Granby was canceled after district administrators decided the trip didn't have the required educational focus.
Instead, with the help of their literacy teacher, Vicki Morse, they decided to fight to continue a tradition that's been in place for more than 15 years.
"We felt like it was bogus," Ruben Mendoza, 14, said of the administrators' decision.
Initially, Morse said, the students' reaction was merely to complain. But the harping changed to action when Morse explained that district leaders might change their minds if students got together — parents included — and presented their argument in a mature, rational way.
They organized talking points and wrote about the issue in the school newspaper — including listing office numbers and e-mail addresses for Superintendent Steven Adamowski and Assistant Superintendent James Thompson, as well as the phone number for the board of education. They encouraged students and parents to contact Adamowski and Thompson and respectfully ask that the field trip be reinstated on its originally scheduled day — today — after Thompson suggested a compromise Saturday trip instead. And the students scheduled an emergency meeting Tuesday and invited district officials and school board members to attend.
On Monday, Thompson changed his mind — and the field trip was back on.
Thompson said he did so for several reasons, including recognizing the students' efforts.
"We do listen to children and value what they have to say," he said.
The students said they took different lessons from the experience.
"I learned that we have a lot of power," said Joseph Ortiz, 14.
"You have to have as many ideas as possible and you have to stay calm," said Ben Bowen, 14.
"Don't ever give up, there's always something you can do," Ruben said.
Morse said it was a good experience for the students and their parents, who often feel that they have no say in their children's education.
"I'm glad this happened," she said. "It was a good teaching lesson."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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