By Ashley Wislock
The Daily Item
MIDDLEBURG — As 89 Midd-West High School seniors and their chaperones planned out their senior class trip months ago, the group had no idea their destination would be in the national spotlight.
Students and chaperones left Thursday for Boston for their annual senior trip, which was planned well in advance of the Boston Marathon bombings and subsequent manhunt that captivated the world, said Principal Cynthia Hutchinson, one of the trip’s chaperones.
“They start (planning) it early in the year,” she said. “They nominate some places to go, then (students) vote on it.”
When news of the tragedy in Boston broke, the district immediately sprung into action, collecting information, Hutchinson said.
“The first thing we wanted to do was create a map of where the site visits would be in relation to where bombings took place,” she said. “We contacted the tour agency and got as much information as they could get from them. They then contacted different venues in Boston and continued to collect information on a regular basis.”
Reassurances from sites around the city and Friday’s news that the second bombing suspect had been caught “made everybody breathe a little bit easier,” Hutchinson said.
The school got multiple reassurances that the trip was safe for students, and the school hosted a meeting Monday to answer questions from students and parents, she said.
“(Students) seemed pretty sure about this,” she said. “The kids have not talked about being afraid.”
Hutchinson and Superintendent Wesley Knapp said they wouldn’t reveal where the group will visit, but Hutchinson said there are several activities planned for throughout the weekend, including a dinner cruise and a stop at an amusement park on the return trip. The students are scheduled to return Sunday.
Knapp also gave the trip his stamp of approval after considering all of the information gathered, something he took seriously.
“Unless I was 100 percent sure that (everything was safe), that bus wasn’t rolling,” he said. “We have every reason to believe it’s safe now.”
Students on the trip will receive tips to keep them safe, such as reporting unattended baggage and not standing in areas with a lot of glass, Hutchinson said.
However, despite all of the concern, she said the students are looking forward to having a good trip.
“They are very excited about it,” she said. “We have a number of students that go on this trip that it’s their first time away from home or their first time out of state. ... And everywhere we go, they always represent us well.”