KNOXVILLE (WATE) – AAA is making some changes to its safety patrol trip to Washington D.C. Now schools can only send eight students instead of an unlimited number.
This trip serves as a reward for safety patrollers. More than 2,000 students from East Tennessee went to D.C. last year. AAA is now saying they can not sustain the trip at its current size. This means some students will not be able to go on the trip.
“My friends have been like will you room with me and will you ride on the bus with me. I’ve been like sure. So, now I might not be even be able to do that,” said Annah Cate Hyatt, a safety patroller.
“If my best friend doesn’t make it and I do. I wouldn’t want to go,” said safety patroller Brycen Fromberger.
5th graders now feel they have to compete with each other.
“I just wouldn’t like competing against him because he is my best friend,” said Holden Hackler.
“We did not come to this decision lightly,” said Public Affairs Director for AAA East Tennessee Stephanie Milani.
Milani tells me this change is not because of a lack of funding. There were just simply too many kids going on the trip.
“We have been in three hotel rooms and prior to that we had been in four hotel rooms,” said Milani.
Milani says this criteria will be more sustainable and give opportunity to other schools outside East Tennessee.
“We have turned away schools for the past two years because the trip could not take anymore,” said Milani.
The change comes after these patrollers have already started the program.
“These children have entered the 5th grade under the assumption that they will go on this trip as a reward,” said Jamie Fromberger, a parent of a safety patroller.
It’s a reward for getting good grades and for being a good safety officer.
“They were good the years before that trip and they were looking forward to that trip,” said Holden Hackler, a safety patroller.
Schools now have to choose which patrollers can and can not go.
“They personally will do everything they can to ensure kids are treated equally and I’m afraid that might mean not going on this trip,” said Jamie Fromberger.
AAA has provided criteria schools can use to pick those top eight delegates. Milani says some schools are now not going on the trip so they don’t have to choose. Some parents want to sit down with AAA to find a solution, suggesting offering two trips during the year, if the number of students is the reason for the policy changes.
Right now, AAA is expecting around 550 students to come on the trip. This trip is something the parents and students pay for. Schools will have to notify AAA by October if they are planning to participating.