By Mark Boshnack Staff Writer
The Daily Star
---- — Early Saturday morning, about 250 students from area school safety patrols will be leaving for a trip that those interviewed said should be memorable.
About 70 students from Oneonta City School District will be among the fifth- and sixth-graders on the trip to Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia organized for decades by Eastern Travel/Oneonta Bus Lines. Other districts participating are Richfield Springs, Cherry Valley-Springfield, Oxford, Unadilla Valley, Gilbertsville-Mount Upton and Delaware Academy Central schools.
Riverside sixth-grade teacher Suzanne Johnson is the school’s safety patrol adviser. Not everyone in the safety patrol, which is for qualifying sixth-grade students at Oneonta, chooses to go, but for those who do “it’s important for them to see the nation’s capital and all the history” at the stops, she said.
The buses go first to Washington. They leave for Philadelphia on Monday, and arrive back in Oneonta late Tuesday.
Johnson said she has had after-school sessions to get them ready.
“It helps gives them the respect needed” at such stops as the National World War II Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery. They will also see such places as the Smithsonian Museum and the zoo.
Stops in Philadelphia will include the Liberty Bell and Franklin Museum.
“Its a great opportunity for the students,” she said.
While this is the last year of the safety patrol — sixth-graders will go to middle school in the fall — the Oneonta district is looking at ways to provide a similar experience, officials have said.
Fourth-grade teacher Melanie Ferrara is the safety patrol adviser at Valleyview Elementary. It’s one of the biggest events those who participate will have in elementary school and something that many students look forward to since kindergarten, she said.
Eastern Travel helps make the trip more affordable, she said, and with fundraising in sixth grade, the trip should total less than $300 for students.
If a child can’t afford that, Ferrara said, the parent-teacher organization, teachers or others will help make sure those that want to can participate.