Quick Thinking Keeps Seniors Safe During Baltimore Riots
by Katie Manion
On Friday April, 24, 2015, a group of 78 Seniors and 10 chaperones left Varet Street for the annual Senior trip with visits to Washington D.C., Williamsburg, Virginia, and Baltimore, Maryland.
The bus’ first stop was the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. They explored the world's largest museum and research complex before leaving for Williamsburg, Virginia.
The Seniors spent Saturday at Kings Dominion, a 395-acre theme park located in Doswell, Virginia. Seniors tested their limits, trying out fear-inducing coaters such as the Intimidator 305 (pictured left), the fastest roller coaster on the east coast, and Flight of Fear, a ride that catapults you from 0 to 54 miles per hour in just four seconds! The high-speed twists and drops didn’t scare them off; the next day after a breakfast buffet the Seniors were back at it. The group of 88 ventured to Busch Gardens and had a great time braving even more wild rides.
The bus was scheduled to depart for the Baltimore Aquarium in the Inner Harbor at 9:30am, but rumors of violence in Baltimore forced them to think fast.
Eight days prior, 25-year-old Baltimore resident Freddie Gray passed away due to injuries sustained following a controversial arrest. His death sparked protests and riots throughout the city and by the end of the weekend had escalated to very dangerous heights.
A chaperone in constant contact with his brother in Baltimore confirmed the city was unsafe, especially with Mr. Gray’s upcoming funeral. After speaking with the Baltimore City Police and WCHS Principal Kathleen Gaffney, the trip leaders decided to skip Baltimore and return to Brooklyn until the bus driver unexpectedly volunteered another option. He offered to take the kids to the Pentagon City Mall located in Washington D.C. instead, adding, “They will like it even more!”
And they did. The Seniors stepped up to the plate and accepted the change without complaint. They spent the day shopping in the three-story, 170-store mall, savored some Chipotle, and made the best of an unpredictable situation.
Each student returned safely thanks to Principal Gaffney, ten chaperones, and the extremely thoughtful bus driver. And no fun was lost despite a change of plans!