Wallops Island trip revisited at SMASD meeting

Participants in this year's middle school World Studies Club's field trip to Wallops Island spoke before the St. Marys Area School Board of Directors at their recent meeting about the importance and positive impact of the annual outing. SMAMS Guidance Counselor Kate McGonnell began by showing the board members a slide show of photos taken during the trip. "The school board needs to see what happens on this trip because you approve it," she said.McGonnell said the students would spend half a day in the classroom and the rest in the field before returning to the lab and "identifying everything they found out in the different areas during the day." Students Elle McGowan, Jensine Coudriet, and Maddie Cashmer also addressed the school board in sharing what they had learned while on the trip. The students said in the laboratory, they identified different organisms including plankton. Out in the field, they traveled to the dunes at Barrier Island and learned how the various formations were created. The students also recounted exploring marshes and marsh life and being instructed on other various aquatic phenomena like tides. Parents Sherron McGowan and Doty McDowell, who is a Wildlife Conservation Officer and chaperone on the trip, praised the academic benefits and lasting influence of the excursion on their children in speaking before the board. "We've been home for six weeks and not only do they [students] still know where their notebooks are, they remember what they learned. I don't think there is anything I can say that can top that. This is an incredible program. As a parent, this is a vital program-- very critical," McDowell said. McGowan said that fundraising efforts are already in the works for next year and asked that the school board ensure future students have the opportunity to experience the trip for themselves."It's a great trip and if it comes up again and you (school board members) are thinking yes or no on a line item, I say 'yes,' that would be my vote," McGowan said. Both McDowell and McGowan also thanked the faculty members who volunteered their time to make the trip possible.