Tonasket Students headed to Washington

TONASKET – In June of next year, 22 Tonasket eight and ninth graders are traveling across the country to visit Washington D.C.

“We opened the program up to last year’s seventh and eighth graders (this year’s eighth and ninth graders) to allow anyone who wanted to go on the trip to go,” Jackie Gliddon, a science and reading history teacher at Tonasket Middle School said. “There are 22 students and six adults signed up to go. They’re pretty much evenly split with eighth and ninth graders.”

Gliddon is organizing the trip which will be from June 16 to June 20, 2009. She said she started organizing the trip so that her history students could connect the past with their current lives and what they’ve been learning in their classrooms.

“Our hope is to get enough interest and make this an annual trip, but the kids have to pay for the trip themselves because it’s not affiliated with the school,” Gliddon said. “We’ve been fundraising since last spring. Also, the parents are making monthly payments toward their child’s trip.”

She added that she has opened up a non-profit 501c3 account at U.S. Bank so people in Tonasket can make a donation to the trip and get a tax credit for themselves.

“Anyone that would like to donate can write a check to Tonasket Community Scholarship and memo it for the Washington D.C. trip and it’ll go into a separate account for the trip,” Gliddon said. “Once the donation is received, Sue Williams at U.S. Bank will send a receipt to the person.”

To raise money for this trip, Gliddon, the other organizers and the students have already sold 11 cases of lollipops since September. Gliddon said this raised about $2,000, all profit, because the lollipops were donated to the group. They are currently selling coupons for Pizza Hut and Papa Murphy’s in Omak for $10.

“Our big fundraiser is a dinner with a silent and live auction at the Tonasket Eagles on Feb. 20,” Gliddon said. “This is the most fundraising I’ve ever done. It costs each student a little over $1,700 to go on the trip. This includes airfare, hotel, transportation, entry and food. Right now, we are down to less than half left of what we need to raise. We have until April 4 to have the trip all paid for.”

The students and their chaperones will go on a tour of the White House, to the Holocaust Museum and to Jamestown. Gliddon said going to Jamestown is a great opportunity for the students to connect history to their real lives.

“They’ll also get to go to the Smithsonian and the Capital. They’re going to recite Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech right where he stood,” Gliddon said. “They’re going to go to the Vietnam Memorial, too. The adults are going everywhere the kids are and through the World Strides, we get to go places the average tourist is not allowed to go.”

Another opportunity being offered to the Tonasket group through World Strides is that Tonasket was chosen to participate in the placing of a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Solider.

“I have four students that have a very unique opportunity to place the wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Solider like the president does every year,” Gliddon said. “The four students are Shane Smith, Jessica Ashley, Alicia Edwards and Dakota Sry and the alternate, in case someone can’t make it, is Breanna Howell.”

This ceremony will take place on June 18, 2009 at 11 a.m. Gliddon said she applied for Tonasket to be chosen and the World Strides Program sent her a form to fill out and send to Arlington. After Tonasket was chosen to participate, she had each student in the group write a response to an essay question and then sent them to the Tonasket American Legion. Without any names on the essays, members of the Legion picked the winners and those are the students who are participating in the ceremony.

“I was ecstatic when I got the letter saying we were chosen for this,” Gliddon said. “The four students will meet with the guard before the ceremony to learn the procedure and what the ceremony is all about.”