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WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

Opinion: eighth graders need an overnight trip

Srivas Arun
The eighth graders visit multiple monuments and important buildings during the trip such as the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial.

The recent cancellation of the eighth grade trip to Washington, D.C., along with the cancellation of the senior Disney trip two years ago, has eliminated the two most well known and formative trips that Westford Public Schools students experience.

Although both trips were temporarily suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the trip to D.C. was brought back for the 2022-23 school year for the WA class of 2027, leaving the class of 2027 as the only class currently at WA to have gone on the D.C. trip. Meanwhile, the Disney trip remained cancelled due to difficulties with planning and conduct.

As a sophomore who was unable to go on the trip in eighth grade because of concerns about COVID, the decision to cancel the trip for future eighth graders is immensely disappointing. My first overnight trip took place during my freshman year and taught me numerous lessons and life skills that I never would have learned otherwise. Instead of the D.C. trip, my eighth grade class at Blanchard Middle School went on a trip to New York City and Canobie Lake Park.

While I was grateful and appreciative for these opportunities, neither trip came anywhere close to the experience of traveling on a plane and spending multiple days in a new city. On the other hand, my trip to St. Louis for a journalism conference during my freshman year of high school was a great experience, and over the course of the few days I was on the trip, I learned much more about myself and how to travel without my parents.

Learning how to pack for myself and managing my money were two of the other big lessons I took away from the trip. Students who do not have time for certain clubs in high school as I did with the Ghostwriter may not have the chance to learn these two crucial skills if overnight class trips are removed.

Moreover, since the trip was my first experience having states between my parents and I, I was able to get a taste of independence which forced me to learn how to be responsible for myself and considerate of others.

Without major trips earlier on in their lives, students will miss out on finding the part of their identity that is unaffected by their parents’ care and monitoring. While teachers still supervise students during these overnight trips, a new level of freedom is open to students, and this feeling of being able to explore a public space with kids the same age can never be replicated by day trips.

Similarly, the interpersonal skills developed while spending multiple nights with other students are irreplaceable and necessary for young teens. Sharing a room with three other students taught me how to communicate my needs and take care of myself while taking others’ needs into account as well. On an overnight trip, you cannot spend an hour in the bathroom getting ready or hit snooze multiple times before rolling out of bed; you have to be considerate or risk spending multiple nights in a room with three annoyed teenagers.

One other significant part of the Washington, D.C. trip that is important to consider is the location itself. With eighth grade being the first full year of civics lessons, Washington, D.C. is an excellent way to cap off the year and summarize the main points of the course. Moreover, D.C. isn’t a place many families vacation to, so for many students it may be the first and only time they visit the nation’s capital. Normally, the trip to historical destinations and museums has less of an allure than rollercoasters, but with friends, the activities of walking through the museums and taking pictures of each other outside historical buildings are exciting.

Despite all the benefits, the reasoning for the cancellation of the trip does bring up valid concerns. As a student, although I appreciate the work that goes into planning field trips, I often do not understand all the logistics and underestimate the amount of work faculty and administration put into the trip. Even so, an overnight trip to a closer destination such as Philadelphia, Boston, or New York would lower the cost of plane tickets or bus transportation and provide students with a similar experience.

Multiple night trips are still necessary with closer locations because a big issue with my eighth grade New York City trip was that the transportation was by bus, so a large part of the day was spent driving to and from the city. Many of the stops were also rushed in order to make it back to the buses in time. With a multiple day trip to closer historical destinations like New York or Boston, trips could still include stops with information on the formation of the U.S. government, much like the D.C. trip. It may also ease the minds of parents and students about flights and plane ticket costs.

Although closer destinations should be considered, the original D.C. trip should continue to be the goal. Capital Tours is not the only travel group company for school trips, and while all of them may have increased prices, it is worth checking the prices of other travel tours in D.C. and receiving feedback from parents to see if a large majority of them would be willing to send their kids on the trip.

Even though it was not mentioned in the official reasoning, one more major concern of overnight trips is the behavior of students. There always seems to be an incident on any school trip that reflects negatively on the school. However, these incidents occur on both day and overnight trips, and students who have been working hard, behaving respectfully, and are finally going into high school should not be penalized over the possibility of these incidents occurring. Instead, administration should decide based on suspensions, detentions, and teacher reports whether individual students should be allowed the privilege of an overnight trip.

Overall, overnight trips are a crucial part of the teenage experience and a necessary award for the eighth graders who have worked hard to get through middle school. Trips, such as to Washington D.C. and other places out of state, teach students critical lessons of responsibility, collaboration, and empathy, allowing them to develop independence. Administration should make it their priority to continue to provide eighth graders with an overnight trip, as it can be a life changing experience that cannot be replaced by day trips.

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About the Contributor
Srivas Arun
Srivas Arun, News Editor
Hello! My name is Srivas Arun and I am currently a sophomore  and a co-news editor for the Ghostwriter. You can find me on the cross country and track teams year round. I am interested in spreading information to the student body about WA and its community.

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