GUILFORD, Maine — A group of Piscataquis Community Middle School students and their chaperones will have a chance next week to walk on the same ground in Jamestown, Va., as the first permanent English settlers in 1607.
Despite the depressed economy in the Piscataquis County region, 31 pupils in the seventh and eighth grades, with help from their families, teachers and the community, managed to raise the $1,000 per person needed for the trip, which also will stop at Yorktown, Va., and Washington, D.C.
The trip has been booked through Worldstrides, a provider of educational student travel.
For some of the pupils, it will be the first time they have been outside Maine, according to Piscataquis Community Middle School teacher Rex Webb. The pupils will leave at 5 a.m. next Tuesday on Cyr Bus Lines and will return at 8 a.m. Saturday. They will be accompanied by 11 adults.
Webb said there is a big difference between opening a schoolbook or laptop and seeing firsthand where history was made.
“It brings it to life,” he said Thursday. “I hope it excites the kids about learning about the history of the Colonies and our country’s government. Hopefully, it will whet their appetite for it and plant that seed that will grow.”
Since last year, the pupils, parents and teachers have been busy raising money for the trip, according to Webb. Parents who could do so paid the full cost of the trip for their child, he noted. To help fund the cost for the other pupils, a bottle drive, public supper, silent auction, bowlathon, donation letters, an online auction within the district and a dance were held.
“I didn’t want the cost to prohibit kids from going,” Webb said. In addition, Worldstrides provided some of the pupils with a $180 scholarship for the trip based on income.
Webb said the pupils and parents expressed great interest last year when he approached them with the idea. He hopes to offer the trip every other year.
“Everything has just fallen into place,” Webb said.
The pupils will spend the first day in the Williamsburg area and the second and third days in Washington, D.C., where they will meet with Sen. Olympia Snowe and tour the area.
Not only will the pupils learn by observing, those who also successfully fulfill an academic piece connected to the trip will receive a half high school credit, Webb said.