Shutdown changes travel plans for St. Peter students

Past trip photos

The federal government shutdown has caused a crisis in Washington, and has also threatened travel plans at Saint Peter School in Quincy.

Eighth graders take a trip to the nation's capitol every October - it's been a school tradition for over 35 years. But now, several months worth of scheduling and reservations for this year's trip are up in the air.

"They've been looking forward to this trip probably since they started school and were old enough to know that this trip was in their future." Janet Bick, principal at St. Peter School said.

Because of the shutdown, more than 20 sites the group planned to see later this month are no longer open to the public. But fortunately, the trip will continue on with several schedule changes. The group leaves for the week-long trip on October 20th.

David Cawthon helps coordinate the trip every year. He said he talked to the students Wednesday morning to inform them of changes.

"They just wanted to know what was going on and if the trip was still a go," he said.

In fact, a shutdown is not the worst problem the students have faced. In the past, the trip has continued through events like hurricane season.

"We've gone through many times where we were more concerned about their safety," Bick said. "This time, it's just a matter of changing the itinerary."

If the shutdown doesn't end by the 20th, the group plans to re-route to Virginia and Baltimore instead. Cawthon admitted he was disappointed the students would miss out on places like the Holocaust Memorial Museum, but there will still be plenty for them to experience. The group will still have the opportunity to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

"We have to get special permission for that, and our class officers are the ones that lay the wreath and see the changing of the guard. Those are things the students remember years later," Bick added.

Both Bick and Cawthon agreed that despite the changes, they know this year's trip will be just as meaningful to the students.

"Kids are very resilient, they'll go with it," Cawthon said. "Things happen every year that we have to change and adapt, and that's what we'll do."