The number of students who left for the nation’s capital on Jan. 18 and returned to Stockbridge on Jan. 22 totaled 15.
Christina Freeman, a math coach at the school, said the 15 students are composed of second and third graders in a student ambassadors group.
“I really can’t take the credit for getting us there,” she said. “It was a collaborative effort between a core team of professionals who were dedicated to seeing our students get some leadership positions to help them reach their full potential.”
The night of the election, however, Principal Bonita Fluker, issued a challenge to her faculty and Freeman accepted the challenge with a letter.
“Our principal issued a challenge and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome for our children to see D.C. up close and personal and witness history?’” Freeman said. “I started to look on the Internet and I found Smithsonian Student Travel.”
Freeman wrote a persuasive essay detailing why their school and their students should be selected for a trip to Washington, D.C.
Within her moving essay, Freeman candidly responded on how far Stockbridge Elementary has come in the past few years.
“Our school was regarded as mediocre a few years ago,” she said. “We are very, very proud of the progress we have made.”
Additionally, the student ambassadors, as young as 7 and as old as 9, represent eight different racial and ethnic backgrounds, which Freeman said makes them a diverse group.
The trip to D.C., at this point, became much more than witnessing history with the swearing in of the nation’s 57th President Barack Obama, but a chance to have hands-on activities that could be supplemented as classroom instruction.
To get there, however, money had to be raised — $1,080 per child to be exact.
A week before the fees were due, not all the money was raised, but due to getting the word out, an outpouring of support from the community came in, narrowly meeting their deadline at 6 a.m. in the morning.
The trip, overall, according to Freeman, was life-changing.
“It was an amazing experience,” she said.
Assistant principal Soraia Santos-Felgenhauer agreed.
“We were the only school that attended in the Southeast region, as we were invited to attend this historical event and even the inaugural kid’s ball,” she said.