Highlands School students excited for annual Charleston trip

5th-graders at Highlands School are looking forward to making the annual trip to Charleston, S.C. this March. Activities throughout the three-day field trip tie into the students’ science and history curriculums.

The trip entails a walking tour of Charleston and seeing its landmarks and historic buildings, visiting a naval and maritime museum including the USS Yorktown, an ecological water cruise, and a historic plantation.

“This is a great opportunity for all of the students to see a new place,” said 5th-grade teacher Angela Swain. “Many of the topics we learn about during the school year can now be applied outside of the classroom and the kids can see how the real world and school connect.”

Highlands School 5th-grade teacher Maci Lequire has never been to Charleston and is thrilled for herself and her students to get to see the city firsthand.

“There are so many educational aspects of this trip that are beneficial for the kids,” said Lequire. “The ghost tour covers lots of historical points, and we are also going on walking tours of the town and a tour of the USS Yorktown. My social studies class has been discussing culture, traditions, and regions, and we will cover the Civil War before our trip, so that hopefully the students will have plenty of background knowledge for these expeditions. Mrs. Swain teaches science, and the botanical gardens and ecological trip are going to connect well to the curriculum.”

Highlands School 5th-grade teacher Maci Lequire (center wearing yellow) works the bake sale with Highlands School students at the Winter Concert to raise money for the trip to Charleston in March.

In total, 30 students, 16 chaperones, and 2 teachers will be making the 6-hour bus-trip down south. Swain said it never gets old seeing the students’ reaction to the various stops made along the way.

“The city is beautiful–the old buildings and charming streets,” said Swain. “But the best part is seeing how excited the students are about every place we visit!”

For many 5th-graders at Highlands School, the trip to Charleston will be their first time visiting the port city.

“I’ve never been but my cousin went once and said it was a blast and there was a ghost tour,” said 5th-grader Olivia Korbin. “I’m not scared, but maybe there’s more to Charleston than we know, maybe I’ll learn more about ghosts when I go there.”

It will be Yuri Montejo’s first trip to Charleston and she is excited to mix business with fun.

“I’m excited because I can see and experience new things,” said Montejo. “And you can learn and have fun at the same time.”

It costs over $500 per person to make the trip, and area businesses and the community are doing what they can each year to make this possible through hosting fundraisers, donating a portion of a night’s proceeds to the trip (Kilwins and Pizza Place in Highlands), or donating items for auction at the Winter Concert back in December. Through the efforts of area businesses, Swain said the cost per student to attend the trip was offset by a fourth.

“A huge thank you to our ever-giving, amazingly generous community,” said Swain. “I grew up here and have a lot of pride in our little town, but I am still pleasantly surprised and shocked at how much businesses and individuals are willing to help! It truly takes a village to raise children and what an incredible village we live in!”

Lequire has been at Highlands School for two years and is moved by how much the community supports the school.

“I would like to say how blown away I am at the support given from parents and local businesses,” she said. “As a Franklin native, I am very new to this community and I have been consistently surprised at how giving and supportive they have been for our trip.”

Manager of the Spice and Tea Exchange Rachel Lewicki grew up in Charleston and was happy to donate a private cooking class to be raffled off to help the cause.

Students work the silent auction at Highlands School’s Winter Concert in December last year to raise money for the trip to Charleston.

“Charleston has a special place in my heart because I was born and raised there,” said Lewicki. “I grew up playing in all those areas they’re going to see and they’re amazing.”

She added that it’s good for kids to take a break from the routine and experience something new.

“I think it’s important for kids to get off the mountain and get a diversified experienced,” said Lewicki. “Charleston is full of so much rich history and these kids just soak it in.”

Anna Herz donated several items from her shop Annawear in Highlands for the raffle to raise money for the trip.

“I think it’s probably educational to get out and see the world,” said Herz. “Plus, it’s Highlands School and my kids went there. I’m happy to help.”

Owner of Highlands Mountain Paws Mia Nelson donated several items for pet lovers and said it is worth it for the students to experience visiting a new city.

“I’ve never been there but I’ve heard it’s an awesome-historic city and I guess you can walk everywhere,” said Nelson. “They (Charleston) has beaches, flatlands, and urban areas, why not go? There’s so much to see and do, it’s going to be a great experience.”

Why do 5th-graders go on this trip each year? Swain said it’s a send-off from Elementary School before entering Middle School.

“We viewed this as a fun and educational way for these students to ‘graduate’ to middle school,” said Swain. “A last hooray! It is a great bonding experience for the students and also for the parents that go!”

Pictured at the top of the article are Highlands School 5th-graders holding items donated from local businesses that were auctioned off to raise money for the trip to Charleston.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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