Why AMSA canceled the annual senior trip to Disney World


Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons license

AMSA replaced the traditional senior trip to Disney World with a week of day trips.

The annual AMSA senior trip to Florida’s Disney World in June was a longstanding tradition dating to the school’s early graduating classes, although through the years there was an underlying problem — not all seniors could pay for the trip, costing approximately $2,000, not counting food and spending expenses. 

Last Feb. 7, AMSA administrators announced a solution in an email to the class of 2023. The Disney trip, students were told, was canceled.

“In years past, approximately 40 percent of the senior class was able to attend the Disney trip,” the email stated. “With only 40 percent participation, we believe this cannot be described as a class trip. We know AMSA can do better by all of our seniors.” 

In March, administrators initially came up with a plan in which Disney was replaced by a trip to New York City, taking place during the same week in June. That trip, however, was canceled, too, due to low enrollment.

The plan then changed a second time, to a “senior week” consisting of day trips. 

The low level of interest in a trip to New York City was, again, largely a matter of cost. It was not significantly cheaper than a trip to Florida, but it was viewed as a viable option by administrators because it could be considered an “educational” trip, meaning financial aid was a possibility.

“As a school, we weren’t offering any financial assistance for the Disney trip because it wasn’t considered an educational trip,” Principal Mike Nawrocki said. “The New York City trip had an educational component to it, which would have offered any students or families in the financial assistance program at the school assistance.”

A poll was emailed to all 144 seniors to see what they wanted to do, and 87 percent of respondents favored a New York City trip over Washington, D.C., or day trips.

Rather than being led by 2023 senior class advisers Matt Anderson and Christina Jagielski, the trip was picked up by administration. It was decided that the trip to New York City would be led by Executive Director Ellen Linzey and Assistant Executive Director Dr. Anders Lewis. 

Despite the interest expressed in the poll, Mrs. Linzey and Dr. Lewis said in an email sent on Oct. 14 that only 13 students had signed up for the New York City trip, and they needed at least 35 for it to happen.

A trip to New York City was originally slated to replace the Disney World trip. (Google image/Creative Commons license)

EF Tours, which was contracted to organize the trip, gave AMSA three choices: combine the trip with another school, add $210 to the $1,338 cost to keep the trip private, or cancel the trip altogether, which meant that registered students would lose $395 each unless they had paid for the most expensive insurance plan in the spring.

Administrators decided that none of the options were satisfactory, and the only way the trip could survive was if the 35-student minimum was met by Oct. 21 (no comment was made about 35 students comprising only 24 percent of the senior class).

The assumption was that the cost, combined with potential resentment over the Disney cancellation, were the reasons why students did not sign up for the New York City trip, but nothing explicit was said to school leaders. 

“Nobody really talked to us about it, to be honest,” Mrs. Linzey said. “I was getting second-hand rumors from parents.” 

For some, it was a matter of dynamics.

“The trip was reasonably hated on by my peers so I didn’t want to sign up either,” senior Delara Panahi said. “I didn’t like the idea of paying for a chaperoned trip when I could spend less money and have more freedom if I went [to New York City] with friends following our own plan.” 

Added senior Ani Rydberg: “I’ve already been to New York City, and I wouldn’t want to go on a field trip there anyway. I would rather just go by myself.” 

On Oct. 25, Mrs. Linzey and Dr. Lewis sent another email to seniors confirming that the New York City trip had been canceled. 

The email also confirmed that the final plan was for a senior week of day trips. 

“Our Principal, Mike Nawrocki, Vice Principal Amanda Cence, and our senior class advisers, Matt Anderson and Christina Jagielski, will be reaching out to our awesome seniors to plan and create an exciting and joyful senior week,” the email stated.

AMSA student government representatives decided to help with the planning of the senior week trips, and they met on Nov. 1 with administrators.

Student leaders made a list of possible activities and sent a poll to all seniors on Nov. 4 to get their opinions on what the week of June 5 should look like.  

On Nov. 15, Ms. Cence sent an email to seniors detailing the events of senior week, decided upon by the survey: a day trip to Rockport, Maine; a trip to Six Flags New England in Agawam; a Boston Harbor cruise; a graduation rehearsal; and “senior sunset.”

“I think Mr. Nawrocki and Ms. Cence and the senior class advisers will help plan senior week, and I’ll help with anything — whatever needs to be done,” Dr. Lewis said. “This is what AMSA is all about — community and integrity, and in the face of obstacles, we come together and we do something.”