On December 1, the entirety of the U9 took a field trip to see the new Black Panther movie, “Wakanda Forever.” The trip was an exciting ordeal for both students and teachers alike, especially emerging from COVID-19 times, where field trips were nonexistent. Unfortunately, the logistics behind it provided some difficulties.
“I will never go back to somebody and say, ‘You didn’t pay,’ because you just never know what the conditions are and you don’t plan a field trip that you can’t take everybody on,” said Hasmig Minassian, the leader of the Universal Ninth Grade (U9) and Hive lead of the Growth Hive.
U9 is made up of seven Hives, each with about 120 students and five teachers. The plan for the day consisted of three Hives (Hives 1, 2, and 5) walking to Regal UA Theater in downtown Berkeley at 10 a.m. The other Hives (3, 4, 6, and 7) followed shortly after at 11 a.m. The first wave took up two auditoriums and the second took up two more, filling the spaces with students, teachers, and parent chaperones. Each wave returned to school after four hours. Overall, the trip went smoothly as there was enough adult supervision and good behavior among students.
The fundraising goal for the trip was $10,600 which at first seemed like an impossible feat, but was in fact doable. While U9 families were asked to contribute $15 per student, the trip’s coordinators kept the varying financial situations of families in mind. Some families couldn’t pay at all, and others could pay for their child and several others. There was the question of whether every student would be able to go on the field trip if the fundraising goal was not met, but it was quickly eliminated. Leah Alcala, a U9 math teacher and lead of the Justice Hive spoke on the potential issue, saying that “families in Berkeley are pretty generous with donating… We’ll still go. Even if we don’t get the money from our families, we’ll fundraise some other way.”
There are two foundations that Berkeley High turns to when fundraising for things like this: the Berkeley Public Schools Fund (BPSF) and the Berkeley High School Development Group (BHSDG). These organizations are usually able to cover what teachers ask of them and like the rest of Berkeley, are “very generous,” Minassian said. The full fundraising goal wasn’t met by families, but BHSDG made up for the rest of the cost of the field trip.
“Wakanda Forever” tackles ideas like colonization, Afrofuturism, and what it is like to be Black in a modern world. Teachers plan to connect these ideas back to what is being taught in ninth grade Ethnic Studies and English classes and will potentially have post-field trip lessons on the subject. “We get the chance to engage with these themes of colonialism and how it affects other nations,” said Toviah Stein, a U9 Physics teacher in Hive 1.
In addition to the educational value of the film, the teachers chose to see it because they knew it would be fun for students. Since the U9 was founded, its goal was to have multiple tripseach year. Due to COVID-19, this activity did not happen during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years, but the entire grade usually goes to the Exploratorium and an A’s game at the end of the year. The Exploratorium trip couldn’t happen this year, but when Victoria Augustine, the leader of the Leadership Hive saw that “Wakanda Forever” was coming out, she posed the idea for a trip, and the rest of the Hives agreed. Many students were excited for this trip and for some, it was their first time in a theater since COVID-19. Before the field trip, Mark Adams, a freshman in the Respect Hive voiced his feelings on the field trip. “I think it’s gonna be fun…I really liked the first one so I wanna see the second one,” he said.
Field trips are valuable to students and teachers as they provide the opportunity to have fun. “One of the reasons we can do this is because all of the teachers that are going, only teach ninth graders…and that is a unique position for the U9,” Minassian said. “Where my ninth graders go, I go. And, there’s something powerful about that from a teacher’s perspective.”