In recent years, cancellations on field trips have been common due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, there was an average of at least three field trips per year for both Academic Choice (AC) and Berkeley International High School (BIHS) and freshmen, according to Hasmig Minassian, who leads the Universal Ninth Grade (U9) and teaches Ethnic Studies and Social Living. This year, there have been no trips for freshmen and few for everyone else. With cases of severe COVID-19 decreasing, more field trips are being organized for Berkeley High School (BHS), something that both students and teachers are looking forward to.
Field trips can serve as a way for students to connect outside of the classroom, as opposed to the usual school setting. Studies have found that taking a break from the classroom and going somewhere else can be highly beneficial for grades, especially for the 65 percent of the population who are visual learners, according to inc.com.
History teacher Kelly Boylan is new to BHS, so she hasn’t been able to organize any field trips yet, but would love to in the near future. Boylan said that her class, had learned a lot about current events and local history, and thought that it would be valuable for students to see what they were studying in person.
“I think it’s important for students to be able to connect what they learn in the classroom to the real world,” said Boylan. “In my class, we learned about the Native American occupation of Alcatraz in the 1960s. I’d love to be able to take my students to actually see some of the marks that the protesters left on the island and some of the messages.”
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has made field trips harder to plan.
“It’s hard to organize field trips right now because … it’s hard to go anywhere that doesn’t require vaccines, because we have to go places that don’t require vaccines,” said Minassian.
Minassian herself was the main organizer of a field trip for U9 students to an A’s baseball game on May 4. “It’s just for fun, and this really is just for community building, but so much of student learning is tied to the relationships that you build outside the classroom,” she said.
Manny Lane-Scott, a freshman at BHS, is personally happy about the field trip. “I enjoy them … I think field trips are important. [They] let the kids explore more out of [school].”
Suzanne Chenault, a French teacher at BHS, also thinks that field trips are essential for students. In the past, she and her students have gone to the Museum of Modern Art each year. Chenault said that she wishes for more field trips, but pointed out how money might pose an obstacle.
“I believe that the district needs to help teachers by providing financial [means],” said Chenault. She noted that there are many cases where teachers have to pay for student transportation, most commonly BART tickets.
For the U9 field trip, Minnasian noted that a generous contributor paid for BART tickets, and that the field trip team also reached out to parents, asking for donations.
Part of the BHS orchestra also went to an A’s game on April 21. Freshman Haley Matthes-Davis was one of the students to help lead and play the national anthem at the A’s game, along with several local elementary students. She said that it was different from prior field trips, as there were fewer stands at the baseball game, and overall a different feel. “It was just a different way of doing it,” said Haley. “You know, walking around with masks on. It was weird, but it wasn’t bad.”
The small schools at BHS — Communication Arts and Sciences (CAS), Arts and Humanities Academy (AHA), and the Academy of Medicine and Public Service (AMPS) — are also starting to take more field trips. For instance, CAS took a field trip to look at murals last week.
Students can start to get excited about the possibility of more field trips to come in the near future. Rose Williamson, a BHS junior, added, “Field trips [can] broaden a point of view and broaden perspectives … [because they] are engaging and hands-on.”