What do Mary Poppins, Fernbank, and the ASO have in common? They were all field trips me and my fellow students took while we were in elementary and high school.
What brought trips from my past to mind was reading about how Upson-Lee High students in Mollie Colvin’s Advanced Composition class and Adrienne Child’s AP Literature class visited Columbus State University’s Coca Cola Space Science Center recently. (You’ll get to read about it in an upcoming issue.)
I was glad to see that schools still take students on field trips, given the tight purse strings a a stingy state government has caused by cutting needed funds for public schools.
I went to school in the City of Decatur School System. At the time, we didn’t have the budget cuts from the state that the Thomaston-Upson System has had, but field trips were not the norm in Decatur. In fact, buses were not the norm, either. I walked, rode my bike, or went by car to school and back home every day. The system didn’t start transporting students to and from school until after I had graduated in 1975. Which may be one of the reasons why the three trips I mentioned at the start are the only ones I remember – my number of school bus rides were limited.
Mary Poppins came out in movie theaters in 1964. At that time, I was a second grade student at Ponce de Leon Elementary School. If any of you are familiar with downtown Decatur, Ponce de Leon Elementary used to be where the Decatur Post Office is on Ponce de Leon Avenue. At any rate, from the school to the movie theatre in downtown Decatur was about half a mile. Around Thanksgiving, Mary Poppins hit the theater in Decatur, and the entire second grade class at Ponce de Leon took our first ever field trip to see the movie. We walked with our teachers from the school to the theater for an early afternoon showing of Mary Poppins, then walked back to school.
The Fernbank trips came about once every other year when I was in junior high and high school. Whoever was in the science classes that quarter would get on a bus and ride over to the Fernbank Science Museum and Planetarium. We’d tour the museum and then file in and take our seats in the planetarium. That was always the highlight of the trip – sitting down and staring up at the ceiling of the planetarium while they played a recorded program showing us the different constellations on the ceiling.
But I think my favorite trips were to the ASO – Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Each spring, the ASO would put on a high school performance every afternoon for a week or two, and students from all over the state could go and listen to the orchestra. I was in the Chorus in high school, and the choral and band students always got to go. I love all kinds of music, and I’m fairly certain those trips to hear the ASO cemented my love of classical music.
Students can’t learn everything they need to know from books or computers. They need to get out into the world and experience different things, too, and that’s what field trips allow them to do. I hope all the students in the Thomaston-Upson School System have a chance to get out and experience life while in school.
Larry Stanford may be reached at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.