Cedar Shoals field trip

The peer leadership class at Cedar Shoals High School is attempting to raise $6,000 for a field trip to Alabama through GoFundMe. (Photo courtesy Katie Baker Johnson)

A little less than $3,000 stands between some Cedar Shoals High School students and their first-ever trip outside of Georgia.

For Black History Month, a peer leadership class and their teachers have turned to GoFundMe as a way to raise funds for the historic field trip.

Katie Baker Johnson is the teacher of the peer leadership class that needs support in order to embark on a two-day trip to Montgomery, Alabama to visit three historic Civil Rights memorial sites and dine on the Samford University campus in Homewood.

“[The National Museum for Peace and Justice] is the memorial that's been set up to honor the 4,330 black men and women's have been recorded to be lynched during the time for Reconstruction,” Johnson said. “It's really important for the black community in the South to learn about their history. And it really helps inform them about modern politics today.

Along with the national museum, the class hopes to attend the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and one of many locations where black children protested during the civil rights movement — Kelly Ingram Park

“It's really important for the black community in the South to learn about their history. And it really helps inform them about modern politics today."

— Katie Baker Johnson, Cedar Shoals teacher  

The peer leadership class at Cedar Shoals is a mentorship program in which upperclassmen advise freshman students who may be struggling academically or socially. Every Thursday, local leaders such as politicians, doctors and teachers come and speak to the class about leadership and education. Such leaders have included Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement President Mokah Johnson and Assistant Professor in the University of Georgia Department of Psychology Dr. Isha Metzinger.

Johnson works with a ninth-grade counselor, Ariel Gordon, and the student teacher of the class, Savannah Sanders, who also helped plan this field trip.

“They've been exposed to a lot of local leaders, and I want them to see what leaders look like at different phases through history by experiencing these places,” Gordon said.

Fifty percent of the funds have been raised for students to attend the trip. The fundraiser was set at $6,000 total to fully fund meals, hotel stay, buses, and admissions to the museums. Although the students’ money is due on Friday, the GoFundMe will close right before their trip in April, so any amount that is donated will help fund the students.

“Problems are never as big as ‘throw money on it and solve it,’” Sanders said. “But this is actually one unique situation where actually throwing money at it educates kids.”

Attending field trips is the norm for most kids growing up, but these kids haven’t gotten that same experience, Johnson said

“For us, like me, growing up, an overnight field trip was just something that like our parents could handle,” Johnson said. “But that’s not always the case for every student in Athens.”

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