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Publication Students Visit New York City

Halifax County Middle School and High School students traveled to Columbia University in New York City to attend the 86th annual Scholastic Press Association Spring Convention last month.

According to Kelly Weatherford, one of the trip sponsors, Columbia University offered a college setting that allowed the students to learn new techniques concerning today’s journalistic views.

“They engaged in open discussions, hands-on activities and gained a wealth of knowledge,” Weatherford said. 

This year she ventured to New York City with 45 people.

“I have been called brave by many, but for me I love the excitement and the look on the students’ faces when they experience this for the first time.  This year, Mrs. Pittard and I extended an invitation to the high school yearbook staff and teacher Amy Montgomery,” she added. 

The preparation that goes into making this trip happen is extensive and expensive. As a teacher, Weatherford said one of her goals is to make the trip relatively inexpensive for the students and parents.

“This could not happen without the support of the community,” she said.

The trip is independently funded by the participants and through fundraisers.  The participants complete the fundraisers to raise the needed funds to pay for the extracurricular activities they experience. The fundraisers give the students the chance to connect with the community.

“This year we had three major fundraisers: Italian Delight (sponsored dinner), Conner Farms (flower sale) and Billy Bobs Trailer MFG (trailer donation). Other local support came from Eric Arthur Insurance Company, Curves, Power Equipment Center and Wal-Mart. This trip could not happen without the community believing in the cause and donating time or product to help raise the funds needed,” Weatherford said.

“The weather cooperated with us and gave the students and parents the best experience ever,” she continued.

Ned Strange, father of Taylor Strange, said this was a life changing experience, adding he had many firsts on this trip.

Strange and his daughter saw the sunset from atop the Empire State Building, they rode a subway for the first time, and they both saw the Statue of Liberty.
Tammy Ingram, mother of Emily Ingram, said it would be hard to choose just one event that made this trip extra special as the trip as a whole “was awesome.”

“As a teacher, this is what I like to hear,” Weatherford said.

The well-planned and executed trip allowed the students and parents to experience a lot of New York City’s cultural, educational and historic sites in a very short period of time.

The group was treated to the Broadway play “Wicked,” and they experienced the diverse ethnic cultures in this city by visiting Uptown, Midtown and Downtown Manhattan on foot and via the subway.

The group was in New York City on St. Patrick’s Day which is celebrated by closing off 5th Avenue for a St. Patrick’s Day parade that lasts from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Several of the students experienced their five seconds of fame by having their photo taken by American Eagle Outfitters in Times Square that was displayed on the larger than life digital screen located in Times Square.

Although the tight schedule drains the students’ energy level, the memories and experience make up for the four days of constant scheduled activities, Weatherford said.

“I want to tell the students who traveled with me that their exceptional good behavior and willingness to trust me and follow the schedule made this trip one of the best. I am very proud of the hard work the students put into raising the funds and completing the middle school yearbook before we left for New York,” she added. 

“The newspaper staff even completed the third edition of the “Lions Roar.” The dedication and perseverance from the students can only be described in one word…awesome,” Weatherford continued.

“Mrs. Pittard, Ms. Montgomery and I were impressed with all aspects of the students, and we are very proud of them for making this another successful year. Keep striving for the best, and you will succeed in reaching all your goals,” Weatherford said.

She said she organizes this trip and tries to make sure that first experiences happen and are priceless. 

“I want the students and parents to tell of the adventures in New York City with pride. I want them to remember that education happens inside the classroom and outside the classroom. Learning outside of the school setting teaches the students how to follow society rules and safety rules that simply cannot be taught in the classroom,” she concluded.