Making the Most of Field Trips

middle schoolers on a field trip looking out at on a bridge

Every spring the middle schoolers of Arthur Morgan School embark on 18 day long field trips.  The trips are the culmination of a five week academic unit in which the students have learned about a specific topic. Sometimes these topics are science based. Other times they are social studies or art based.  This year we are sending out three trips. The first is studying Forced Migrations, looking at times they have occurred in history as well as the current crisis on our Mexican border. The second trip is exploring philosophy. They will be traveling to different communities and discover the different ways people live. The final trip is called Death, Birth and Life. It focuses on our healthcare system, and the ways different cultures treat birth and death.

An 18 day field trip takes a lot of planning. Long hours go into figuring out where to stay and what to do each day. However, it’s not just the staff making these plans. To make the most of these field  trips, students are involved every step of the way.

Montessori’s Going Out

middle schooler descending NYC subway stairsWhen Maria Montessori conceived of Going Out!, she believed that the students should be an integral part of planning these field trips. In preparation for the 18 days trips, students participate by planning the group’s itinerary and  researching destinations.  They then make phone calls or write email to potential destinations while also doing other tasks like packing and preparing the trip menu. They take time out of their studies to do logistics for the trips, and in doing so practice life skills that serve them far into their future.

“I liked being part of creating the trip. It helped build skills like using the phone,” said Joseph, an AMS alumni, “and I also felt more excited to go on the trip!”

Students are guided through researching information about potential destinations and thinking about whether these locations will meet the needs and goals of their group. Students are taught how to introduce themselves and the school on the phone and how to articulate requests to strangers.  They also learn how to leave effective messages if necessary. By the time they leave for their trip, the students feel an ownership knowing that they were an important part of making it happen.  As a result, they cherish the experience that much more.

Teaching Students to Raise Money

middle schooler making a phone callAnother way our students participate in creating their field trip experience is through fundraising.  We are able to keep the costs of the trip at a minimal by staying at Friends Meetings or in the homes of generous alumni and parents. However, gas, food and activities can still cost a lot of money.  In order to get the most out of their 18 days, our middle schoolers are willing to do what’s necessary to raise the funds they need. They are willing to face danger and even humiliation. In other words, they put on a talent show.

Octopus’s Garden is an annual talent show planned and produced by the AMS community. This year the show will take place on Saturday, February 1st at 6:00 p.m. On that night, our middle schoolers will face their fears and stand before their parents and other members of Celo community to share their amazing talents.  Singing, music making, acting, stand up comedy, magic tricks, and silly dance routines all make up the night’s entertainment.  The students raise money by selling gourmet desserts and appetizers throughout the show.

Learn More About Our 18 Day Field Trips

Involvement is Crucial

Students play an integral part is all aspects of the talent show.  During work projects, they transform the school dining hall into a magical underwater garden.  They then spend the next couple weeks planning and rehearsing their performances, encouraging one another to take a risk and show off their skills.  On the night of the performance, they go back and forth from performing on stage to taking food orders and serving tables.

two middle schooler singing into a microphoneThrough their hard work and willingness to put themselves out there, our students raise the money they need each year to make their field trips a success. They also build their confidence and sense of usefulness by participating in the creation of their trip.

Don’t Miss the Show

Of course, none of these efforts matter if there isn’t an audience to see our students perform and purchase the wonderful food they have made.  So please brave the cold and come out to support our students and their trips by attending Octopus’s Garden this Saturday, February 1st.  The cheesecake alone is worth the trip!

-By Nicholas Maldonado