After two years of grueling fundraising activities, 21 Grant Union seventh- and eighth-graders and 14 chaperones made their Philly Trip a reality.
The group visited Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C., March 24 through April 2, during spring break.
Traveling to the Big Apple was an eye-opening culture shock for most of the students.
“Just walking around New York was crazy, compared to where we live,” said eighth-grader Quinten Hallgarth. “There are so many people.”
The trip to downtown New York City included a ride in three limos in Times Square and a night out at the Gershwin Theatre for the play “Wicked.”
One day, the students went from having homemade breakfast with the Amish in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to going through security at the Pentagon.
“I learned a lot about the Pentagon that I never knew,” said seventh-grader Sam McCracken. “I never thought it was that big.”
Quinten said he was also impressed by the Pentagon, where they walked a mile and a half of the 17 and a half miles of hallway.
“The guys told some funny stories,” he said. “They have a big workout gym. Two White Houses could fit inside.”
“My favorite part was being able to see the White House,” said eighth-grader Jordyn Young. “We got to go inside.”
Her other favorite spots included the Supreme Court and Empire State Building, where they traveled to the 86th floor.
The Holocaust Museum, Valley Forge, the 9-11 Memorial, the World War II Memorial, Arlington Cemetery, the Washington Monument and St. Patrick’s Cathedral were just a few of the other stops along the way.
Trip organizers were Humbolt sixth-grade teacher Casey Hallgarth and his wife, Heidi. But it was Imbler teacher Georgia McKee who started the Philly trips for Imbler students several years ago.
Heidi and son Cameron went on the trip when he was in eighth grade. Casey, who previously worked as a teacher in Imbler, tapped McKee for help in organizing a trip for his students.
After the two years, Casey said he thought this first Philly Trip might be the last.
“It was hard,” Casey said, “but after seeing the kids and the parents on the trip, it was totally worth it.”
Quinten, Sam and Jordyn all agreed the trip was worth their effort.
“It was 100 percent worth it,” Quinten said.
Casey said he appreciated the community making the trip possible with $100,000 in donations.
Planning is already underway for Philly Trip 2019.