Private school steps in to help Richmond students continue annual field trip

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Published: Mar. 29, 2018 at 7:37 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 30, 2018 at 6:44 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - An annual tradition will continue for freshmen at Richmond Community High School, thanks to a donation of two buses and drivers.

Organizers said this week that a camping trip to the Delmarva Peninsula was in jeopardy because Richmond Public Schools administrators were not approving the two bus drivers necessary for the trip. The school system had said, "the principal never put in an official request through the transportation system."

After a story aired on NBC12 on Thursday about the possibility of the trip being canceled, St. Catherine's School on Grove Avenue stepped up to not only donate the buses and drivers but to also pay for the gas and drivers.

St. Catherine's is a private all-girls school.

The drivers will transport 60 students to Delmarva and bus them to a host of activities along the Chesapeake Bay area for the week of April 9-13.

Organizers said on Thursday that attempts to secure another charter bus or drivers from other companies have not panned out because of the short notice.

"Every year, it exceeds the students' expectations about how meaningful the trip really will be," said senior Ariana Shahidi, who took the trip as a freshman.

The camping trip centers on environmental science and has happened every year for nearly 40 years. The week-long excursion is a first-of-its-kind experience for many of the students at the specialty high school, who are from the city. The high-achieving teens get to experience hands-on the wonders of the Chesapeake Bay, while hacking it out in the wilderness and building lasting friendships.

Organizers said the students are exposed to a variety of experiences, including camping, survival techniques, relationship building, teamwork and hands-on learning.

"You're literally camping. It's in a tent for a week with your friends," said senior Melvin Roy.

"We learned how to look out for each other, being on our own for a week, for the most part," added D.J. Turner.

Students receive academic credits for the trip and must also complete a 12-page paper. Richmond Community High School is a specialty school within RPS, which is focused on preparing students for college. Only honors and AP courses are offered.

For many of the students, it is their first time experiencing nature in such a setting.

"We are pleased that Richmond Community High School is able to garner support from the community to continue the tradition of their students attending this field trip as our focus remains on ensuring that all of our students have access to adequate transportation to and from school despite limited manpower," said Kenita Bowers, spokesperson for Richmond Public Schools.

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