A Tradition in Jeopardy

By Jessica Steger, Editor in Chief

A West Bend High Schools tradition that dates back to the 1970s is now at risk.

Since the twin high schools opened, WBHS students have always been given the opportunity to travel to New York and Washington D.C. for a week. The last NY/DC trip took place in 2013, and there is an upcoming trip scheduled for April 15-20. The total cost for next year’s trip comes out to about $1,300 per student, and is being organized by Scott Mindel, East social studies teacher.

However, April’s trip is in jeopardy of being cancelled due to a lack of student participation.

In order for the trip to take off, a minimum of 40 students need to sign up, with the deadline fast approaching in approximately two weeks. So far, three have signed up.

“This is basically a last-ditch attempt,” Mindel said. “We used to have waiting lists. I’ve taken trips where we have had over a hundred kids go. Three buses worth of kids. Since mid-2000s the numbers have been greatly decreasing.”

Factors such as the global world language and music trips, or the new Washington D.C. trip eighth graders in the West Bend School District participate in, may contribute to the recent decline in interest. However, Mindel does not believe that the cost of the trip is a major factor.

“I try to arrange the trip to keep costs as minimal as possible,” Mindel said. “So we don’t fly because that would cost more than if we took a bus. We do a lot more in our trip probably for the same or less money.”

However, global trips have taken a toll on some students’ wallets.

“I didn’t know about it until I saw the posters all over the walls,” East senior Prairie Haubrich said. “Plus, I went to France last year, which was really expensive.”

“We used to have waiting lists. I’ve taken trips where we have had over a hundred kids go.”
– Scott Mindel, East social studies teacher

Students who go on the trip certainly get bang for their buck. Each day of the trip is stacked with activities.

“We pack a lot of activities into that week, and they learn a lot and have fun, too,” Mindel said. “We do anything from touring the battlefield at Gettysburg to Mount Vernon, the monuments in Washington D.C., a tour of the capital, National Archives, Library of Congress and a group picture at Arlington National Cemetery,” Mindel said.

There’s also all the New York activities, such as a visit to Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. In addition, students go to Ellis Island and take in a Broadway show. They also have the opportunity to experience Little Italy, Chinatown and Central Park.

Not all activities are strictly structured, and students can enjoy free time in both D.C. and New York.

“I’ve had girls go out there and get prom dresses, because it’s cheaper,” Mindel said. “They buy them right in the garment district in New York.”

Arielle Carlson, an East senior, plans on attending the trip.

“I’ve always been interested in history, so that’s a reason I want to go,” Carlson said. “And I’ve never been to the East Coast, so that should be interesting.”

For many students in the past this trip was their first East Coast experience as well.

“It’s something that a lot of kids here don’t necessarily get the chance to do,” Mindel said. “There’s been instances where I have had kids who have never been out of Wisconsin. It’s fun. And they get to do it with their classmates too.”

(Top image: A group of WBHS students pose in May 2001 for a picture that now hangs in the X hallway. Photo by Jessica Steger, Editor in Chief.)

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