School trips a go again |

School trips a go again

FRISCO – Students didn’t attempt to conceal their joy when the Summit school board voted Wednesday to allow them to go ahead with their upcoming trips despite the Iraqi war.

The board overturned Schools Superintendent Wes Smith’s decision to cancel the trips because of war-generated fears about travel safety.

Students applauded and cheered the board, hugged each other – and some even did a little jig.

“I’m really pleased with what the school board decided,” said Summit High School sophomore Keeley Michener. “It was a letdown when we all heard it was not going to go through.”

Smith had canceled the high school Summit Singers’ trip to Italy next week and a Summit Middle School trip to the nation’s capitol during spring break.

A group of almost 40 students, parents and teachers came to the school board meeting Wednesday to ask the board to reconsider Smith’s decision.

While Smith made it clear he would not change his position because of legal and moral responsibilities, he told the board that it had four options. It could do nothing, it could affirm or reverse his decision or it could make an allowance for the trips to proceed without liability to the Summit School District.

“I can appreciate the struggle and I’m not sure I would have done anything different in your position,” board member Dr. Pat Keehley said to Smith.

“Seven days ago tonight, this country went to war,” board president Bill Pelham said. “There are a lot of people in this world who don’t agree with that.”

Some of those people wouldn’t think twice to target an American, he said, as was evidenced by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“If one of my kids were on that trip next Monday, I would say no,” Pelham said.

The board voted 4-1 to allow the trips to go ahead as planned, but with liabilities moving from the school district to group leaders and parents.

Only Pelham opposed. Board treasurer Jay Brunvand abstained from the decision and vice president Dr. Marshall Denkinger was not present. Voting in the majority were Keehley, Dr. Garrett Sullivan, Kristy Johnson and Stuart Adams.

“I expect postcards,” Keehley said after the board voted.

“We’re so excited,” said Cathie Hill, high school choral director. “The kids have worked so hard.”

Members of the Summit Singers worked through the holidays caroling, mascotting and putting on performances to raise money for their trip, she said. They are scheduled to compete with choirs from all over the world at the International Days of Choral Music in Verona, Italy, and were at risk of losing $48,000 if the trip was canceled.

Hill met with singers and their parents Tuesday to discuss the risks involved with pursuing the trip and the financial implications. At the time, only two parents were undecided whether they wanted their children to risk travel, she said, but by the end of the meeting the group was unanimous – it believed the learning opportunity was worth the risk.

“I think that’s why we were successful today, because we came in as a united group, expressing our support and respect for the school board and the superintendent,” Hill said.

Michener and her friends Siri Austill and Maghan Jordan said they aren’t afraid to travel next week.

“I’ve heard that northern Italy is safe,” Michener said.

Austill said she and her parents discussed the risks involved before coming to their decision.

“We decided going would be worth so much more than the risks we would take going there,” she said.

The girls were unanimous in their excitement about the no-longer-canceled trip.

“Yay – we get to go to Italy,” Jordan said.

“We’ve worked all year for this,” Austill said.

Lu Snyder can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 203, or

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