Ardmore Middle School’s National Junior Honor Society will be rewarded for their academic success with a trip to Washington D.C. May 22-28.
Students must have a 3.0 grade point average in their 6th- and 7th-grade years to be eligible for the honor society and have no more than three behavioral incidents of any kind.
Last year, more than 100 8th-grade students were eligible. Members also are required to have letters of recommendation and documentation verifying their service hours. Students volunteered at soup kitchens, animal shelters and bible schools and babysat.
Once students are accepted into the honor society, they spend their 8th-grade year fundraising for the trip to D.C. The weeklong trip costs $1,700 a person, which includes airfare, hotel, food and commemorative T-shirts. This year, 51 students will make the trip, escorted by 24 adults, including middle school principal Cindy Huddleston.
“This is something that we started several years ago,” Huddleston said. “The purpose of the trip is to expose students to life outside of Ardmore. They need to know there’s something more.”
Students have raised money through dances and a chili supper and will put on a BBQ supper April 15. They also will be selling flowers the following day in conjunction with the Ardmore Beautification Council.
People in the community are invited to donate funds.
Once in D.C., participants will visit Mount Vernon, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of American History, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Ford’s Theatre, the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial and other historic places.
Students also will get to see the Washington Nationals baseball team play the St. Louis Cardinals and eat at such D.C. landmarks as Georgetown Cupcakes and Ben’s Chili Bowl and stay at a hotel just five blocks from the White House.
To prepare for the trip, honor students on Wednesday afternoons participate in a class relating to where they are going to go and what each place means.
“We’ve already talked about our hotel and how to use the metro system,” Huddleston said. “I want them to learn about the metro because I don’t want them to ride around on a tour bus the whole time. We’ve talked about the history of Washington D.C., the Air and Space Museum, American History Museum and last week one of the high school teachers came in and talked to the kids about the Pacific Theatre. Next week we’ll talk about the Atlantic Theatre.”
Apart from the educational aspect of the trip, Huddleston is excited for her students to experience life outside of Ardmore.
“We had kids last year who had never ridden an escalator before,” she said. “That’s something that I take for granted. It blew my mind. We even have lessons on how to order from a menu because some of them don’t know how.”
One of her students, Brayden Goodman, is excited to “see George Washington’s house and the biggest McDonalds.”
Goodman designed bracelets that he customizes and sells to raise money for his portion of the trip. So far he has raised $450.
Huddleston is pleased by her students’ academic achievements and the effort they’re putting in for the trip.
“I’m so proud of our kids,” she said. “They had to have high academics and service to get here.”