Government shutdown forces 8th graders to change DC travel plans

Government shutdown forces Ponca City 8th graders to change DC travel plans

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PONCA CITY -

When Max Jackson and 29 of his classmates at First Lutheran School arrived in Washington D.C. Monday morning, many were excited to see the museums and monuments they learned about in class.

"It's been an interesting trip so far," said Max.

Their social studies teacher, Gary Watters, says the eighth graders from Ponca City spent the last two and half weeks doing reports on many of Washington's major landmarks to prepare for the trip.  

"We have had to kind of fly by the seat of our pants," said Mr. Watters.

Mr. Watters' class was supposed to tour the capitol building Tuesday, but the government shutdown has forced the group to adjust their travel itinerary.

"I was kind of bummed about it," said Max, "but then I kind of got over it pretty quickly."

Max's father, Scott Jackson, says many parents working as chaperones stayed up late Monday night to watch lawmakers debate over our nation's budget.  When the possibility of a shutdown became a reality, Mr. Watters, Scott, and the other chaperones got to work.

"We got up this morning and began to make our alternative plans for the group," said Scott.  

Instead of touring the capitol Tuesday morning, Mr. Watters' class stopped by the U.S. Supreme Court, one of the few landmarks still offering tours.  Although the sign says closed in front of the Smithsonian, the group was still able to walk through the doors at the National Geographic Museum.

"We've compromised pretty well and we've tried to do everything that's still open," said Max.

As Mr. Watters' class tries to make the best of their week at our nation's capitol, Mr. Watters says he is using the debate over the nation's budget as a teaching point for his students.

"You've got two real opposing points of view," he said, "and yet, we will somehow talk this out, we will compromise, there will be concessions made by both sides."

For Max and his friends, the trip is a real-life civics lesson, they won't soon forget.

"Our teacher's done an excellent job of teaching us about how the government is working and how it's working right now," said Max.

Mr. Watters' class returns to Ponca City on Saturday.

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