By R. Dozmati, El Motne City School District
Breaking new ground in the El Monte City School District (EMCSD), 4th graders embarked on a remarkable journey to California’s capital. This year, EMCSD allocated funds to send each 4th grader to Sacramento for a one-day study trip, offering them a rare chance to explore the city of trees and enrich their learning experience.

This educational odyssey, which was approved by EMCSD’s Board of Education back in December, saw over 500 4th graders delving into the Golden State Capitol, touring the Capitol Building, Vietnam Memorial, California State Railroad Museum, Sutter’s Fort, and Old Town Sacramento, deepening their understanding of history and culture.

“Students learn best if they can immerse themselves in the content,” shared EMCSD Superintendent Dr. Maribel Garcia. “Our entire team and board of education understand this, so when the opportunity to provide study trips for students to visit our state capitol at no cost to families presented itself, we acted. For many of our students, this was their first time on an airplane, let alone visiting the state capitol. These experiences can influence a student’s educational and life trajectory, and we are thrilled that we were able to make this possible.”

The success of this trip was a testament to the collective effort of EMCSD. Student Support Services and Communications departments orchestrated numerous planning meetings and Zoom presentations in multiple languages to address any and all questions from families, resulting in an impressive 70% attendance rate. EMCSD’s transportation services ensured timely travel, with students arriving at airports as early as 5:30am and returning home as late as 11:00pm. Nutrition services provided breakfast, while principals and teachers worked diligently to prepare students for this unforgettable adventure.

Cherrylee 4th grader Izabella shared that her favorite part of the trip was visiting the California State Railroad Museum, “It was really fun to see the [old] trains that actually worked and they even let us inside them.” Aiden from Potrero also enjoyed the train experience, “It just had so many fun things.” Students were able to tour vintage dining and sleeper cars; the AT&SF Dining Car on display had many celebrities aboard during its time, including Walt Disney.

The Vietnam Memorial was also a special moment for students. “My favorite part was going to the park to see the Vietnam Memorial and seeing the names of El Monte soldiers,” shared Potrero student Angelique. At the memorial, California cities are listed alphabetically, and the names of fallen soldiers are displayed with their ages. EMCSD students calculated that the average age of El Monte soldiers who died in Vietnam was around 22 years old. It was a somber, yet powerful moment for students.

Dr. Rene Quon, Principal at Cherrylee who attended the trip with his students, witnessed a transformation. “For many of the 4th graders, there were so many firsts. First flight, first time being away from home, and first time visiting Sacramento. From the moment the plane took off in the morning it was like a rollercoaster – the kids had their hands up and screaming. It was such an amazing experience for a number of reasons, and I truly think these kids will remember this for their whole lives.”

This Spring, an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. is slated for all EMCSD 8th graders. Over 600 EMCSD 8th graders will tour our nation’s capitol, visiting museums and memorials to coincide with the U.S. History curriculum. Students will be able to earn high school credit, and teachers attending the trip as chaperones will also receive professional development hours as part of the study trip.

Photo and Story Courtesy El Monte City School District