KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Nearly 1,000 fifth graders from Knox County schools arrived home Monday after spending the weekend in Washington D.C. The annual Safety Patrol trip is a reward for students who demonstrate leadership in school.
Their adventure began bright and early at Chilhowee Park in Knoxville on Friday morning, where 24 buses were loaded up with students and their chaperones.
On Monday, families gathered in the same place to pick up their students, many with souvenirs, smiles, and stories to share.
“Going to the Capitol because it was very interesting to learn about. There was this big huge theater where they make laws. And Mr. Duncan was there!” said Evelyn McNeely, a fifth grader at Karns.
The students met Congressman Jimmy Duncan, visited the White House, and the D.C. Zoo, among other stops.
“Any daughter, any woman should feel that she could be president one day. Hopefully the trip to Washington D.C. has inspired them to pursue their dreams and all the things they learned through history has inspired them to go forward in the future.” said mom Scarlett Valentine.
“It gives them a view of something else. Why they are learning all of the social studies and things that go along with that, they get to see it firsthand,” said Nikki Roberson, a chaperone for Amherst Elementary students.
Originally AAA had to limit the number of students allowed on the trip because of size, not funding issues. Only eight students from each school would be permitted to travel, but Go Student Tours took over the trip for Knox County Schools this year. All eligible safety patrols were able to attend. More than 1,000 people went on the trip, including chaperones, nurses, Knoxville police officers, bus drivers and tour guides.