Akshay GaddamanuguTuesday, February 28, 2023
After a two-year hiatus because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Fall Project Week almost returned to normal this school year. Fall Project Week (FPW), an Altamont tradition, is a grade-wide field trip with different grades going to different destinations. Even though most trips returned to normal, there still were not any international trip offerings for upper-school students. International trips were common options for the senior class before the pandemic, but that's no longer the case.
Kimber Williams, who plays a key role in Altamont’s FPW planning, said, "While people have begun to travel more post-pandemic, there are still a lot of risks associated with international travel that the school is not quite ready to take on yet. We are working with a risk management consultant to create new guidelines and safety protocols for us to use for international travel in the future."
As far as when that future might be, "It definitely is not going to be happening ... in the next couple years," she said, "but it is definitely on the table.”
Reactions to this news vary. Some students are disappointed.
"It feels like we're being limited," said junior Liam McNeil. "It takes away opportunities. I understand it -- I don't think it's anyone's fault, but it feels like great opportunities have been taken away."
Sophomore Harris Strang said, “I think international trips help us see more cultures, so I think it’s disappointing.”
Junior Jeremy Doster was more blunt. "I think it's absolutely ridiculous," he said, adding, "Covid will never be over."
But Junior Edward French said, “I don’t think I’d be upset at all, because I don’t think I’d go on it anyways."
Besides the lack of international trips, there might be other FPW changes coming soon, too.
"At the conclusion of FPW this year, the administration solicited feedback on how FPW trips went from faculty trip leaders and chaperones in order to help start the process of planning and improving FPW for next year," said Williams. "Feedback provided by both trip leaders and chaperones led to administration conversations about things like what went well and what could be improved on each trip, why do we do FPW trips, what do students and faculty get out of going on FPW, do we want to continue doing the same trip destinations and programming again next year, what academic component or learning experience is tied to each trip, and, are the trips age-appropriate for the academic focus or learning experiences, etc.
"All of these conversations led to the decision to continue having grade level trips for fifth through eleventh grades, and twelfth-graders having the option to choose between two trip choices. We also made the decision to change some trip destinations and programming for specific grades and how FPW can be logistically improved for everyone moving forward."
The administration is planning to release more information about FPW by the end of next week.
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