Wilkinson County Christian students continue tradition of trip to visit historic sites

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 21, 2003

WOODVILLE &045; Fifty-two upperclassmen from Wilkinson County Christian Academy recently completed an 11-day tour of historical points in the northeastern United States and Canada, including a visit to Ground Zero in New York City.

&uot;It was very sad there. People would just walk up and get quiet,&uot; said Farrar Langlois, a 17-year-old senior at WCCA.

&uot;It was a shaking experience, but it gave us a chance to connect. We were able to talk to New Yorkers and see how it would feel if something like that happened where we live,&uot; Langlois said.

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This year’s journey marked the 20th year for the bus trip, which evolved in 1982 from the Rev. Bernard Waites’ 12th-grade government class.

&uot;We were talking about the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. We have copies in the classroom, and I told them the originals were in Washington,&uot; said Waites, who sponsors the trip each year.

The students wanted to see the original documents, but only if their teacher would go with them. &uot;I told them I would go to Washington with them but not to Florida,&uot; said Waites, referring to traditional post-graduation trips to the beach.

Waites said the trip alternates each year from New York, Philadelphia and Washington in the Northeast to St. Louis and Chicago in the Midwest.

&uot;Last year, we toured the Anheuser-Busch plant in St. Louis, Abe Lincoln’s home and memorial in Springfield, Ill., and the Commodities Exchange and Sears Tower in Chicago,&uot; said Waites, who also teaches history and economics at WCCA.

Gill Bryant, an 18-year-old senior, said he prefers the Northeastern tour. &uot;The bus ride is longer, but there is more history on the Northeast trip,&uot; Bryant said.

This year, students saw Niagra Falls, shopped in a Toronto mall and visited the Gettysburg National Battlefield, as well as the White House, the Capitol and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington.

Waites said each student pays a $400 fee to cover the cost of transportation and motel rooms. Students also have to pay for their meals and shopping along the way.

&uot;I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and the price has only increased $25,&uot; said Waites, who receives help from school secretary Reba Whitehead each year with the trip itinerary and reservations.

&uot;We have all the hotel numbers, and we’ve used the same bus driver for the past 12 years,&uot; Waites said. &uot;We got a lot of compliments along the way at restaurants, hotels &045; even at the White House &045; on how well-mannered our kids are.&uot;

And for the students, the chance to experience history outside the classroom is invaluable.

&uot;There are a lot of things that pictures just can’t show you,&uot; Langlois said.