11/21/11 Woman gets field trip after two decades

Woman gets field trip after two decades
By Emily Bailey, The Times-News 11/21/11     
Reprinted with permission.

   Nearly two decades after Ashley Jones left Alexander Wilson Elementary School in Graham, she and her family are finally packing their bags for a trip they’ve been waiting for since she was a student.

   Each year, the elementary school provides all fifth grade classes with the opportunity to travel toWashington, D.C. When Jones had the chance to go as a student, tight finances kept her home.

   “I was going to go with my daughter when she was in the fifth grade,” said Cathy Geercken, Jones’ mother. But at the time, Geercken was a single mother who only had enough money for her daughter’s ticket. When Jones found out that her mother would not be able attend as a chaperone, she refused to leave her side.

   Now, Jones’ son, Chazden Galloway, follows in her footsteps as a student at Alexander Wilson Elementary, and all three generations will be able attend the annual field trip together as a family. It will be the first time each of them will experience the many sights and sounds of the nation’s capital.

   “It’s something that I’ve looked forward to for about 16 years,” Geercken said.

   Three busloads of students and chaperones departed early on Sunday and return late Tuesday. With the cost set at $185 per person, family members are permitted to tag along, as long there are extra seats to spare on the bus.

   The three-day trip will be packed full of site-seeing and tours, but Geercken is thrilled that they have the opportunity to experience it all as a family.

   “We have a whole itinerary,” Geercken said.

   Some of the attractions the group will visit include the Smithsonian, Holocaust Museum, Mt. Vernon, Ford’s Theatre and Arlington National Cemetery.

   Work has kept Jones from attending local field trips previously hosted by the school, but she is looking forward to this “once in a lifetime” trip, because it is something that she never got to do.

   Geercken hopes that the trip will give her daughter back everything that she missed out on as a student.

   “It would be a good family bonding time,” Geercken said, “and it’s something that none of us have ever seen before.”