Government shutdown scuttles eighth-graders’ trip to D.C.
BY TERESA AUCH SCHULTZ email@example.com October 4, 2013 6:10PM
Brad Neiman talks to his eighth-graders Friday at St. Mary’s Community School in Crown Point. | Teresa Auch Schultz/Post-Tribune
Updated: November 6, 2013 6:06AM
CROWN POINT — As Brad Neiman’s eighth-graders walked into his class at St. Mary’s Community School on Friday morning, they started asking him about what they would have been doing that day.
Some groaned as he told them they most likely would have been taking pictures of the White House at that moment before spending the rest of the day at the Smithsonian. One student asked if they would have gone to the restaurant Buca di Beppo and sighed when Neiman said they would have gone Thursday night.
Instead, they got ready for another normal day at school. Because of the federal shutdown, school officials decided to cancel the school’s annual trip to Washington, D.C., for the eighth-grade class.
“I was in complete shock,” student Abby Wadas said of the cancellation. “I didn’t even know what to think or say.”
The trip was to have started early Tuesday morning — 60 students, 40 parents and school personnel. But that was the same day the shutdown started. Wadas said she woke up at 2 a.m. wondering if her mother would wake her up soon for the trip. Instead, her mother woke her up at 5 a.m. with the bad news. Because the majority of places the students had planned to see would be closed, the school decided there was no point in going.
Neiman said they made the call at 11 p.m. Monday, when no hope was left.
“Talk about the worst possible timing ever to plan a trip to D.C.,” he said.
Luckily, the school can reschedule the trip, likely for sometime in the spring, through the tour company they use, but students said there was still a feeling of disappointment for a trip they had spent weeks preparing for.
Neiman said his class had focused on the nation’s capital for the past two or three weeks, learning about each museum and site they would visit. Then, about a week before the trip, they started hearing news about a possible shutdown.
Student Kathryn Strimbu said she saw it on the news and asked in class the next week what it would mean for their trip. That started a debate. Fellow student Kyle Bokota said he didn’t think at first the government would actually shut down because it’s been so long — about 17 years — since the last time it happened. But then after a few days, he realized it didn’t look good.
Neiman said the students overall were disappointed but have handled the cancelation well, all things considered. He was also impressed that almost all of them came to school the next day, even though many of them had stayed up late waiting to see if the shutdown would happen.
“I think it says a lot about their dedication,” Neiman said.
Wadas and Strimbu said their teachers helped them ease back into the normal routine. They also made cupcakes, which definitely helped.
The students spent Tuesday researching the shutdown and then making news videos about it. Strimbu said she and her partner were re-enacting scenes from Congress when they both realized how to best describe the way they thought lawmakers were acting.
“This sounds like kids,” they both thought.
Of course, their fellow students also had their own opinions, and the debates in class were heated, the students said.
“It just shows it’s important to pay attention to the news,” Bokota said.
The students will have to wait a few more months before they go on their anticipated trip, but the students and Neiman went ahead and wore T-shirts made specially for the D.C. trip on Friday. Instead of visiting the White House, they settled in to learn about Amerigo Vespucci, the country’s namesake.