Foreign Online

Without bake sales, Ames High has become a bastion of non-obesity. With the establishment of Saturday school the number of hall wanderers has been reduced dramatically. But what exactly is the purpose of the district policy on overseas school trips? The little known ruling has recently spawned a batch of rampant rumors and high emotions. “There’s something that the school board did that’s put all these restrictions on foreign trips,” senior Mariah Crotty said, “It’s just for out of the country, so Orchestra Tour is still okay.” So why exactly was this policy brought up in the first place? It turns out the ruling was made two years ago by the State Attorney General and the school board actually had very little to do with it. Superintendent Dr. Tim Taylor summarized the ruling: “When these trips are school or district sponsored , the District cannot charge a fee and all students interested must be allowed to participate at district expense whether it is supported by fund-raising activities or not.” It simply means that, in these tough economic times, the District cannot afford to endorse overseas trips. Additionally, if kids are lost or injured overseas, the ACSD can’t afford to cover the liability. Yet that fact doesn’t seem to bother most Ames High students; they’re eager to get out and explore the world and engage in opportunities only oversea travel can present. More than a few are more than a little upset that these trips may be cancelled in the future. “It pisses me off!” senior Cliff Song said, “This is so stupid!! There’s not a single person in this school who wouldn’t agree. A teacher can’t use professional days to go on trips but they only get two personal days a year. They’d have to get a pay cut, and I don’t think anyone is going to do that.” Because the ACSD can no longer endorse these school trips, teachers will no longer be officially excused while travelling. This isn’t a problem for trips in the summer, but trips that occur during the school year will either have to be rescheduled or cancelled, depending on how determined the sponsoring teacher is. Although the decision doesn’t outright ban international travel, it certainly has made it harder. “I know that the French and German trips are still on because everyone has already paid,” junior Jade McBride-Hahn said, “I [also] know there won’t be trips next year unless the teachers sponsor it themselves. I think it’s kind of ridiculous. It’s a really great opportunity to see another country and learn the language.” “We were known for our foreign exchange programs,” senior Basil Rain said, “So why get rid of them if they got us national coverage and made us look good?” “I know my sister did one semester in Germany,” junior Hannah Carlson said, “It was really important to her because she became an English-German major. I don’t think she’d have been able to discover what she wanted to do without the one semester exchange. I think it’s really important for people to be able to go and experience a different country.” “What’s so bad about bringing kids to another country to see if that’s what they want to do?” Song said, “I thought I’d do engineering or something in college but now I want to do Spanish. I just think they should let students have the opportunity to eat the food, meet the people, learn to be more culturally diverse.” Superintendent Taylor made sure to emphasize that the trips can continue as long as parents know trips are not district/school sponsored and organizational meetings occur outside instructional time. He knows that international trips are a wonderful opportunity and hopes that they continue. Yet however enthusiastically individual board members support the trips, the Ames School District is not in a position to cover private travel expenses or liabilities with public taxpayer funds. “I think it’s okay as long as they still have the trips available,” senior and Uganda Trip participant Adriana Pitcher said, “They’d better be.” And they still are. It’s just that now, only the most dedicated teachers and students will be able to experience the wonders of lands far, far away.