(See past issues of the Superintendent's Corner, below.)
May 17, 2013
I am once again struck by the way Gateway students pull together
as a group when faced with new experiences, and by how much our staff go out of
their way to ensure that our students have great experiences under various
conditions. In this particular instance I am writing about the Class of 2013
and their senior trip. After much planning and some last minute changes, at the
time I'm writing this, the seniors are in the third day of their trip to Walt
Disney World and Universal Studios.
Although this is a diverse group of students who do not always
spend much time together back at Gateway, they've bonded well on this trip and
created memories that will last a lifetime. Some of these students have not
traveled frequently, nor great distances, some have never flown, some have
never traveled without their parents, and some have never had the opportunity
to share a hotel room with people other than their families. Those things have already
changed on this trip. For these seniors, this trip is a learning experience of
coping with a world much different from the one we find in our small
communities. From navigating airports, to figuring out bus routes and
schedules, to planning their day to ensure they are where they're supposed to
be on time and prepared for the next activity - and to do much of this on their
own - are certainly life skills that are important and relevant to being a
citizen in an expanding world.
In addition, Walt Disney World gives these students a glimpse into
a world of opportunities for careers, education and travel. The students have been
able to interact with interns from all over the world during their stay here. I've
heard conversations about the possibilities of being an intern, of what would
be required to work and manage the many shows, exhibits, and events we've seen
or participated in, and we’ve talked about the experiences one can gain from
traveling, going to school, or even living in another country. We'll even formally
review and discuss some career options when the students participate in an
afternoon Youth Education Series activity this week.
As difficult as it may be to believe, after just 3 days, you can
actually see an increase in our student's confidence in resolving difficulties,
solving a problem, and interacting with other people from throughout the world.
Add to this the interactions with the trip's chaperones and the many things
they've seen and done, this trip provides a great launching pad for exploring possibilities
after graduation. I also appreciate the bonding opportunities this trip
provides for our students and the chances for collaboration, communication,
problem solving, and innovation between students and the chaperones. What would
be nice is a series of similar activities from early in the Freshman year to
create a class atmosphere and sense of community for their four years in high
school, a significant expansion of the current advisory periods and class
I also have to take a moment to thank the chaperones on this trip.
From parents, to staff, to town residents, these individuals provide a wide
range of services to our students. From the traditional safety and security
aspects of being a chaperone to the interactions over meals, at events, and
throughout our stay, the chaperones have provided additional insights into life
in an informal, yet meaningful way. These interactions, and the low-key manner
in which they occur, are a great way to highlight and model what works in each
chaperone's life and experiences as models for our students.
This senior class trip, as with past senior
trips, has proven beneficial to our students, shown that our students are wonderful
individuals who travel and cooperate well, and for many, will be a once in a
lifetime experience based upon the special events that the district was able to
arrange. I hope that we'll be able to continue offering these types of
activities to our students throughout their time in the district.