Gaining perspective: How a field trip has led to realizations


Courtesy of Robert Lussky

AMSA’s Class of 2020 gathered outside of Ft. McHenry in Maryland.

Three months ago, I went on a trip to Washington, D.C., with the rest of the sophomores for a jam-packed week filled with exciting visits to important monuments and museums. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on what happened, and I’ve made some realizations.

These realizations about the nature of connections between the students in the Class of 2020 and our place in the world — more important, ultimately, than the sight of the Lincoln Memorial or the Air and Space Museum — line up with the goals that the class adviser, math teacher Robert Lussky, had in mind while planning the trip.

The intentions — and the desired results — were the same as for the class trip to Cape Cod.

“For me, personally, the primary goal is to build bonds between students, between students and chaperones, and between students and the school,” he said. “The stronger the bonds are, the more conducive the AMSA environment is for student learning in all subjects. I believe that the 9th and 10th grade class trips achieve this goal. Otherwise, I would be not be so vested in them myself.”

In so many instances, I saw students bonding over the simplest things.

For example, every night when we came back from our last monument or museum of the day, the whole bus would participate in a game of HQ Trivia.

Arthur Pimentel
Little things such as playing online trivia together helped to build relationships.

This is a game played through an app, in which people answer trivia questions with the potential for actually winning money. It’s in the form of a live game show, fast-paced and funny.

After a long day of walking and standing in frigid winds for hours, the three buses ended up at a restaurant, where we enjoyed dinner as a kind of big, happy family. They felt like one of those television episodes when a bunch of family members gather at a house for a huge Thanksgiving dinner.

These meals brought people closer, both physically because of the limited space, and closer in regards to creating stronger friendships.

“The formula is pretty simple,” Mr. Lussky said. “Food and safety and sleep are first and foremost. Plenty of free time to hang out with friends and have a good time. Then, use a combination of lectures, tours, and exposure so that students are sometimes strongly encouraged to learn some history and sometimes just given the opportunity to learn some history.”

Each destination on the schedule was better than the previous one. Each monument and museum created a sense of awe and it made me feel as if I was there at the time. These museums and monuments also increased the amount of respect that I have for the staffs responsible for creating the experience when you walk into a museum.

For example, at the Vietnam War Memorial, each name engraved in that wall represents an American life lost fighting for our country. Also, the “Three Servicemen” statue and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial provide a vivid image of life during the time of the war.

These elements allow for an experience like no other; it transports you to the time period and allows you to view the history through a simple bronze statue.

But those times when you could roam freely around the mall with your friends, adding a much-needed snack break, helped as well.

Arthur Pimentel
Places such as the Korean War Memorial brought history alive for students.

Mr. Lussky, being the head of activities for the 1oth grade, has been on every field trip thus far. But the vision for each trip is clear. His favorite part is just seeing the students enjoy themselves.

“My favorite part of the trip was witnessing the 10th graders enjoy the D.C. trip just as we chaperones had envisioned,” he said. “They, collectively, work very hard each and every day at AMSA and demonstrated [from prior trips to Mt. Monadnock, Cape Cod, and Salem] that they can manage the freedom we offered on the D.C. trip. I enjoy spending time with the student in the class and I enjoy seeing just how responsible they are.”

Leaving D.C. was a bittersweet moment. Sure, I was able to get home and see my family again, and sleep in my bed instead of the cold, hard hotel room floor, but there was the realization that I only get to experience this trip once in my high school career.

The museums, monuments, and memorials show you things that cannot be replicated or appreciated in a classroom.

Yes, the bus rides were fun and the trivia games filled with laughter, but there is something about listening to audio logs of Jews recounting harrowing experiences on trains bound for concentration camps, or seeing thousands of pairs of shoes behind a glass panel, each representing a life lost in perhaps the worst episode in humankind’s history, that creates a feeling and leaves an impression that is impossible inside a classroom’s four walls.

It was a trip that will resonate for some time.