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Teachers: Field trip funding cuts reduces essential aspect of student learning experience

Unit 5 announced the district would no longer fund field trips beginning next school year in an effort to reduce the district’s budget deficit. 

Field trips, several Community teachers said, are an essential part of the student learning experience. 

Field trips are “invaluable” to the music program, choir director Mr. Ben Luginbuhl said. 

The educational outings allow choir students to attend festivals, competitions, clinics and workshops, Luginbuhl said. 

Events like February’s ACDA Treble Sing and Share Festival, where chorale students received performance feedback from experts like Bradley University’s Director of Chorale Activities and U of I’s Associate Director of Chorale Activities.

Community’s Treble Choir and Chorale groups “were treated to some great performances” from local ensembles at Feb. 9’s field trip to ACDA’s Central Illinois Treble Choir Festival. (Photo Courtesy of: NCHS Choir Program Instagram // @nchsironchoirs)

Through annual field trips to Illinois State University’s Madrigal Festival, Community’s Chamber Choir students have had the opportunity to perform on the Center for the Performing Arts Stage among some of the top high school ensembles and receive critiques from veteran music educators like ISU’s Dr. Karyl Carlson.  

“Without field trips,” Luginbuhl said, students won’t have these opportunities that “enrich their experience in music.” 

The cuts, Luginbuhl said, are a “blow” to the music department.

The events are something “students look forward to,” Luginbuhl said; they offer opportunities that can’t occur inside the classroom–seeing live performances from collegiate choirs and networking with other high school chorale students. 

 “They’re a really exciting part of what we do,” Luginbuhl said

In the agriculture department, Mrs. Liz Harris’s students fundraise to offset the cost of field trips, hosting Dine To Donate nights at local restaurants, hosting a community auction and selling poinsettias and strawberries.

However, Harris said, the department relies on district funds to cover the cost of bussing. 

“My philosophy,” Harris said, “is students learn just as much or more outside of the classroom as they can learn inside the classroom.”

Inside the classroom, students can’t have their hands inside of a cow or on a bee hive, like at Joliet Junior College’s Agriculture Immersion Day in September.

Junior Mary Baker places her hand into a “fistulated cow,” a cow surgically fitted with a cannula. The cannula acts as a porthole-like device that allows access to the rumen of a cow, to perform research and analysis of the digestive system. (Photo Courtesy of: Normal FFA & Agriscience Dept. // @normalffa)
Senior Michael Canales holds a “bee box — a single bee can produce up to a tablespoon of honey in its lifetime. (Photo Courtesy of: Normal FFA & Agriscience Dept. // @normalffa)

The event, attended by BSAA classes, allowed students to connect scientific principles and concepts with agricultural applications. 

“We were able to experience several hands-on activities to learn more about opportunities in agriculture,” the agriculture department posted on Instagram, “conducting soil tests, handling bees, exploring a fistulated cow, drawing landscape designs, driving a[n] autonomous vehicle, team building, investigating Protozoa under the microscope…”

Each year, the growing department’s students have had opportunities like attending the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, the Greenhand Leadership Conference at the University of Illinois and experiences like watching cheesemaking at Ropp Dairy Farm and touring Illinois State’s research farm. 

“We are going to do everything in our power to make sure we can still provide those opportunities,” Harris said. 

But the added financial burden, Harris said, will be “a strain on our students” to fundraise to continue offering the educational outings essential to the ag classes.

Outings, learning resource teacher Mrs. Erin Sanders said, offer opportunities for special education students in the Student Support Program to learn essential life skills outside of the classroom.

These weekly trips into the community are mostly self-funded through the students’ “Grounded in Iron” coffee shop sales, Sanders said.

In the classroom, Sanders said, students learn life skills like budgeting and making purchases. 

Lessons they put to practice in the real world.

Without some financial support from the district, these experiences might be reduced.

“We would be limited on being able to go out and actually make purchases and practice [life skills],” Sanders said.

The budget cut proposal will prompt “a lot of program changing,” Sanders said.

The approved cuts can be reinstated if the April 4 referendum passes. 

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About the Contributors
Libby Price, Staff Writer
Libby Price is a senior at Normal Community High School and is involved in Speech Team. This is her first year working with the Inkspot, and she is a staff writer. On the weekends I enjoy baking and crocheting. My favorites subjects in school are English and Spanish. I hope to become a teacher someday.
Kate Johnson, Staff Writer
Kate Johnson is sophomore at Normal Community High School who enjoys Theatre club. This is her first year with the school's newspaper, the Inkspot, where she is a staff writer.  On the weekend I listen to music and play videogames. My favorite book is "It Ends With Us" by Coleen Hoover.
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