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Field Trips to Return in Springs

Thu, 04/08/2021 - 08:25
Springs School students have been doing lessons outdoors lately.
Springs School

The LongHouse Reserve, Amber Waves Farm, the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center, and Duck Creek Farm are among the places that Springs School students will likely visit in the coming months, as field trips appear to be on the horizon once again.

All field trips had been canceled since Covid-19 arrived on the East End and classes abruptly shifted to remote settings last March, but Springs administrators have announced plans to give kids in every grade a taste of the outside world -- safely and socially distanced, of course. School board members were supportive of the initiative during their work session on Monday.

Christine Cleary, the Springs principal, said the trips are small-scale for now, but meaningful nonetheless because they represent "beautiful and educational" opportunities.

"I think I can speak for everyone when I say that everyone has felt very cooped up for the last year on so many levels," Ms. Cleary said by phone on Tuesday. "It has definitely taken an emotional toll on our students, staff, and families. It has never been more important than it is now to have educational field experiences for our kids. It helps them connect with one another and connect with nature after being on computers for a year."

The eighth graders seem particularly excited for their trip to Adventure Park in the UpIsland hamlet of Wheatley Heights. Ropes courses, zip lines, and other outdoor fun await the students there. The trip will be partially paid for with unused field trip money they raised last year as seventh graders.

"That is an end-of-year celebration for our graduates," Ms. Cleary said. "Adventure Park has worked with us. We will be the only patrons there that day -- we'll have the park to ourselves."

Speaking of graduation, Springs administrators have a plan to ask the eighth graders their opinions on what kind of ceremony the school should plan in June.

"I would be interested in what the eighth graders have to say. They should have some say in it -- it's their day," said Tim Frazier, a school board member, during Monday's work session.

So far, options include an indoor ceremony in the East Hampton High School auditorium, an outdoor celebration on the front lawn or back field at the Springs School, or a drive-through format similar to last year's commencement. Barbara Dayton, the school board president, suggested a weekend date might ease the problem of parking. Each idea has its pros and cons, Ms. Cleary said, and everything hinges on New York State public health rules pertaining to mass gatherings.

Also up for debate are the format of the kindergarten moving-up ceremony and the annual DARE celebration, which recognizes students' achievements in the drug abuse-prevention program. A question mark also remains next to the idea of requiring proof of a negative Covid test from each guest in order to have a larger gathering.

"We welcome your input and ideas. It's sort of a big mixed bag and we're trying to figure it all out," Ms. Cleary told the school board on Monday.

Now that the weather is shifting into spring, Springs students seem to be in universally better spirits, Ms. Cleary said on Tuesday. The teachers are taking their lessons outside. Pass by the school, and you can see chalk drawings on the sidewalks and kids spread out on the front lawn.

"Definitely we have seen an increase in enthusiasm and spirit," she said. "Everybody is really taking advantage of the weather and nature, really feeling a sense of relief. It has been a long year, not just a long winter."


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