CRESWELL MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS AND PRINCIPAL SHIRLEY BURRUS PLACED A WREATH AT THE TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER AT ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY DURING THE EAST COAST TRIP. EVERY YEAR, CRESWELL’S APPLICATION TO PLACE A WREATH HAS BEEN APPROVED. PHOTOS COURTESY OF GROUP PHOTOS
In October, the Creswell Tigers went east and brought back memories that will last a lifetime.
Ethan Pisani, seventh grader, said the trip was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He said there were many learning opportunities that didn’t feel like school, because students were standing in the very location in which these incidents occurred.
”It was just, as a whole, so much fun,” Pisani said. ”Worth the amount of time doing the fundraising and all the things we did. If you get the chance to do it, it’s so worth it.”
The trip started in Boston, then went to New York City and Washington D.C. There were 35 total travelers, 21 of which were students.
Shirley Burrus, principal, said that she always believed learning outside the classroom with real experiences was a good way for students to absorb knowledge.
She said when the students came back from the trip they learned about Bunker Hill – which they had just visited on the trip. Because of this, they were able to draw on their trip experience to better understand it.
”It deepens students’ understanding of our nation’s foundational events,” Burrus said. ”They see these places on TV all the time – like the Capitol Building and the White House.”
Eighth graders Jordynn Risdal and Noelle Holst said the trip gave them insights to cultures of different cities, and how they differ from Creswell.
Risdal’s favorite part of the trip was the Library of Congress. Holst’s favorite part was seeing ”Frozen” on Broadway. Burrus said that while male students aren’t always excited about seeing a Broadway show, afterwards it becomes their favorite part of the trip for some of them.
The East Coast Trip originally started in the early 1990s with social studies teacher Rick Gaultney, who involved Burrus. Their first trip had 54 students and only went to Washington D.C. As the trip continued and the staff became more confident in their travels, they added more destinations.
Administrative Assistant Jill Strader has been on 10 trips east with the school. She said that the trip was around $3,000 per student for the eight-day trip.
Despite catching the tail-end of a hurricane in Boston, the rest of the weather on the trip was enjoyable.
She said each student had a different favorite thing, from Central Park and the 9/11 Memorial, to Paul Revere and George Washington’s House, to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Strader said the Jefferson Memorial was one of her favorites.
The students even got to experience Ellis Island. The guide lined up students and had them reenact what immigrants at the time had to go through.
”I couldn’t really imagine that happening nowadays that you’re trying to come in,” Strader said. ”We didn’t want to get real political, but some stuff is happening, and (the guide) touched on a little bit – just the way you had to come into the country, and how some (people) had to change their names. They (the kids) thought that was pretty interesting.”
Burrus said her favorite part was laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. She loves attending Arlington National Cemetery and paying her respects.
On the way back from the trip, Strader said that an Honor Flight landed with Korean and World War II veterans. For Strader, that was her favorite part – to see the kids reacting, shaking their heads and crying at the sight.
”I’ve been there many times and we’ve done different things, but that was the most memorable,” she said.
The East Coast Trip will try to mix up the sights the students see each year, but the one constant for Burrus is seeing students’ eyes widen when they get excited about the trip.
Editor’s note: Grammatical and contextual corrections were made to this story on Dec. 13.