The fate of field trips

TSA+will+proceed+with+online+competitions.+%7C+Photo+courtesy+of+Mark+Piotrowski

TSA will proceed with online competitions. | Photo courtesy of Mark Piotrowski

Every student cherishes the days that they get to miss their regular classes for an “educational” trip. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, those wonderful retreats are starting to become something of a distant memory. At the end of the 2019-20 school year, many of LM’s staple field trips were cancelled, such as the juniors’ trip to Six Flags and the Orchestra’s annual trip to Disney World. Class field trips were not the only retreats that were cancelled, as many clubs had to halt their plans for various competitions, such as the Technology Students Association (TSA), which had to cancel both their state and national competitions. Many scheduled events that students train, study, and practice for, along with events that teachers studiously prepare for, suddenly went away.

For many students, field trip cancellations were devastating, as students often choose classes or join certain clubs for the sole purpose of getting to go on particular field trips. Regarding the cancellation of the annual State Conference for TSA in Seven Springs, PA, Jonathan Xu, a junior at LM, said, “I was very dismayed because we had just had a very successful Regional Conference and I had qualified in multiple events for the State Conference. We were looking forward to improving our projects and preparing ourselves for what would have been a thrilling and rewarding experience, not only for me but for the chapter as a whole.”

The concerts that the orchestra typically allocates months to practice for, along with other competitions, were also gone. The orchestra instructor, Jessica Villante, remarked, “We (the music department faculty) were heartbroken about our students losing so many opportunities and events that we had been working towards, but it’s important to note that all of that pales in comparison to the need to keep everyone safe.”

With all of these field trips cancelled, the question becomes if and when students can expect to make a return to their respective activities. The Athletics and Activities Director Jason Stroup is unsure about a timeline for their return. According to Stroup, “This decision will come through the school board via the district health and safety committee.” Additionally, corresponding school districts’ decisions may affect the choices of ours. “The district does look at and explore options of surrounding districts but makes recommendations to the school board that meet the needs of the students and families in our school district,” says Stroup.

There are already initiatives to switch many concerts from the old model to virtual settings, as Villante says, “We are collaboratively building virtual performances. These projects have already started, and while it’s certainly a different music-making process than what we’re used to, it’s great to be making music together.” Despite the decision of the district, there is no way to compete in a competition if other schools do not attend due to their own safety protocols.

The vast majority of LM students are not allowed in the building until the hybrid model starts on October 19. Even while the hybrid model is in place, visitors will not be allowed to enter the school. If possible, there may be some virtual events in various areas for students to participate in instead of in-person events. However, until further notice, nobody besides LMSD staff and students will be permitted to enter the buildings.

While the fate of these once-beloved educational retreats remains undetermined, many clubs and classes rely on them making a swift return.