Opinion: Field trips change lives

MCHS has a serious lack of field trips, which can inspire young students to do great things


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Field trips are responsible for some of the most powerful learning experiences a students can have—so what happened to them?

Michelene Havard, Staff Writer

I squatted on the school bus with my back against the chocolate brown vinyl seats. My hand cramped while I stapled 10 copies of my creative writing piece. I passed the stapler to the students behind me when I finished. We were headed to the Whitewater Creative Writing Festival field trip. This field trip felt like the first in a long time. 

MCHS field trip policy is reasonable, yet the limitations are unfulfilling. Field trips are important for students to experience for multiple reasons. MCHS gives students the opportunity to attend field trips, but they don’t allow field trips during certain times of the year such as final exam weeks⁠.

The most entertaining and educational classes that I experienced at MCHS came from teachers who arranged “in-class field trips.” In Earth Science, we went outside and watched the thermometers’ temperature change, and when we went back inside the classroom we found the relative humidity. Going outside didn’t take more than 10 minutes, but it felt like an adventure. 

Another class that allowed the students an in-class field trip was English I, but this event was thoroughly planned. The students could choose to attend or not to attend because they would be missing a couple of periods to watch a Shakespearean play in the auditorium. The best day in the history of all math classes was the day we flew kites in Geometry. We learned how to find the height of the kite while a student ran with the string. It’s beneficial to have interactive activities for students, because if they are doing bookwork every week they may become bored. Many students will be more engaged if they can get up out of their seats. 

MCHS held a spirit barrel competition last year at MCHS, and the sophomores were rewarded with a field trip to Navy Pier for their outstanding spirit. Some of the students had never been to Chicago before the trip, so they learned how to navigate the train and experience a big city.

Field trips are more important than ”educational” movies. These movies are not worth spending three days on only to have the students napping or on their phones. In these cases, an assignment on Schoology or printed out worksheets to go along with the film is necessary to keep the entire class focused.

Field trips do not last nearly as long as a single movie. Going on a college visit will take most of the school day. That trip is something you cannot teach by showing a movie, it is an experience that students choose to take to help them make their plans for schooling after MCHS. 

There is a shortage of MCHS field trips. I have not had the chance to experience a lot of field trips. I took Honors Spanish IV, so I had the opportunity to go to Spain, but I couldn’t go because of the cost. I also had the chance to go to the art museum. These field trips are wonderful because they give students the chance to get out of McHenry and their classroom.

 I wondered, Were field trips for Advanced Placement students only? I learned it’s not by level, it’s just by what the teachers find and how that relates to their curriculum. I hadn’t considered that electives could organize field trips. 

When I walked off that bus with copies of my creative writing piece in hand—I felt like I was leaping into my future. Field trips can change lives, but an ice-cold broken desk is a stepping stone, and I can’t deny that.