By GABRIELLA CRUZ-MARTÍNEZ
Bret Harte Elementary School, 1556 E. 56th St., recently welcomed back its eighth graders from their annual class visit to Washington D.C. after successful fundraising from the Hyde Park community, students, and parents made the trip possible.
The excursion is held every year for Bret Harte’s graduating class, where students are taken to a number of museums and historical landmarks in the nation’s capital from April 25 through 27. This year, 31 eighth-graders signed up for the educational D.C. trip.
“We are so fortunate and blessed to live in such a caring and compassionate community,” said Kristina Lawson, a teacher at Bret Harte who helped organize the trip. “We are also fortunate that there is a deep understanding of and commitment to empowering the lives of our eighth graders. Students were able to see history come to life by visiting the U.S. Capitol Building, the White House, the Smithsonian museums, George Washington’s estate and many more attractions. For some students, this was their first time traveling on an airplane, which was an experience all in itself.”
The cost of the trip was $1,050 per person. By February, parents had gathered half of the total amount leaving around $15,000 for the students to fundraise on their own. In response to this, the eighth graders got creative and held a number of events leading up to the trip including a Walk-A-Thon, fieldtrips, selling chocolates and hosting school dances. Finally, the class reached out to the Herald to spread the word of their efforts for one last boost of community support from the Hyde Park neighborhood.
Lawson said the class received a number of anonymous donations to their Go Fund Me account ranging from $20 to $100 dollars per donor. The Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference donated $1,000 and Mac Properties also donated a private amount to the class.
“Bret Harte would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the donors including Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (HPKCC) and Mac Properties to the eighth grade class trip. Without the generous support of the parents, staff and donors, this trip for our 31 eighth graders would not have been possible,” added Lawson.
Students were said to have had a blast discovering the nation’s past, present and future through their tours visiting the numerous memorials, monuments, and museums D.C. has to offer. The eighth graders even got the chance to visit the new Obama portraits at the Smithsonian museum.
“Our students had an incredible experience and we are very thankful for all the community support,” said Bret Harte Principal Charles Bright. “For them to be able to have this one last big learning experience together before graduating is something we really value. We look forward to doing it again next year.”