Eighth-graders embark for D.C., despite travel company issue

ROX girls group introduced

BMS ROX group

Bellefontaine Middle School guidance counselor Natalie Collins, left, and BMS eighth-graders Tywanna Leeper, center, and Abagail Cole present information at Monday evening’s board of education meeting about the ROX girl empowerment group that began this school year. (EXAMINER PHOTO | MANDY LOEHR)

Bellefontaine Middle School eighth-grade pupils left early Monday morning for their Washington, D.C., trip, despite the difficulties faced earlier this month by the school district and other schools around the state as a result of the bankruptcy of the travel company Discovery Tours that had previously had been charged with trip arrangements.

Superintendent Brad Hall said Monday evening at the regular rescheduled board of education meeting that the group was able to go at its regular scheduled time. The eighthgraders will return home from the nation’s capital Thursday evening through alternative arrangements that the district made with Prodigy Tours.

“The Washington D.C. trip is a valued tradition and learning opportunity that Bellefontaine Schools did not want to see canceled,” Hall said earlier this month. “Bellefontaine Middle School families and students raised over $73,000 to take the trip through Discovery Tours.

“Lynda Holycross, middle school principal, and Cliff Core, eighth-grade social studies teacher, have worked diligently to salvage the trip.”

“That’s a fantastic trip for our students since we started it,” President Joan Haushalter said during the meeting. “I’m very pleased that they can still go. We’re so appreciative to the administrators and teachers who made this a possibility.”

The school district covered the upfront cost of the trip, which amounted to nearly $33,000 that was unpaid by Discovery Tours, and asked for donations to help offset these expenses.

So far, officials said the community and fellow students have been very generous — with members of the Bellefontaine High School Class of 2018 donating $1,300 from their class fund, and community members donating an additional $6,605, donations that were accepted by the board Monday evening.

Donations are still being accepted for the trip, and groups or individuals can send a check made out to “Bellefontaine City Schools” and mailing to: Keith Krieger, Treasurer; Bellefontaine City Schools; 820 Ludlow Road; Bellefontaine, OH 43311.

In addition, contributions can be made through the middle school’s Parent Teacher Organization’s GoFundMe account at: https://www.gofundme.com/bms-washington-dc-trip-fund.

Also at the meeting, BMS eighth-graders were part of another presentation regarding a new girls empowerment group ROX — standing for Ruling Our Experiences — that started this school year at their school building.

Guidance counselor Natalie Collins has led the evidence-based program that meets once a week, focusing on boosting participants’ selfconfidence and learning other life skills. She said the school received a grant from the Mary Rutan Foundation for the initiative, which will also help to continue it next year, expanding it for both seventhand eighth-grade girls.

Read complete story in Tuesday's Examiner
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