Since 2012, Cedar Bluffs Public Schools has offered its high school students a chance to go on a trip of a lifetime.
The program, known as Pounding the Pavement, has taken students on five-day trips to major cities on the East Coast including Washington D.C., New York City, Philadelphia, and Boston since its inception in 2012.
After low interest caused last year’s planned trip to San Francisco to be cancelled, the program is back in 2018 as 26 students and chaperones will head off to enjoy the sights, sounds, and history of Boston this summer.
“Our goal is expose our students, at least one time during their high school years, to a major city on the East Coast,” Greg Brousek, who heads up the trip and teaches social sciences and history at Cedar Bluffs, said. “For many of my students this will be the first time they fly, this will be the first time they are on a subway, a public bus, and then on a train back.”
Unlike some trips offered to students through travel companies and other charters, Pounding the Pavement is essentially a do-it-yourself effort embarked on by Brousek and others involved with the school district.
“We arrange the air travel out, we always fly out and then take Amtrak back,” Brousek said. “We take care of all of the arrangement, the lodging, tours, etc.”
According to Brousek, with the trips planned and executed entirely by him and other supporters of the program it provides a unique experience for students who participate.
“It just gives them that experience that they wouldn’t get if they were just on a charter bus all day,” he said. “I call it the sights and sounds of a community.”
This year’s trip will immerse Cedar students in all of the history and spectacle associated with Boston, and more broadly Massachusetts, with stops in both Salem and Plymouth during the five-day trip in June.
The students will spend a day in each of the three Massachusetts cities, where they will get to explore a variety of historical places.
“We don’t use any private charters so we are walking, taking subways, and ferries and on the day we are in Boston we will explore and board the U.S.S. Constitution, which is the oldest commissioned naval ship, we will tour Paul Revere’s home, North Church, and Harvard University,” Brousek said. “We will also hit the New England Aquarium and the State Capitol Building, we will just follow that Freedom Trail.”
According to Brousek, even the hotel that the group is staying at will provide an opportunity to see American history up close and personal.
“Our hotel is located on the shipyards in Boston, so when our students look out their east windows they are looking out into Boston Harbor,” he said. “If their room sits to the west side they look out their window and they can see the Monument on Bunker Hill, so we are in a very historic part of the city.”
Following the student’s day on the Freedom Trail in Boston, the group will travel to Plymouth to explore the Forefathers Monument, the Grist Mill, Main Street, and Plimoth Plantation.
The next day the group will then board Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited and California Zephyr to Chicago before landing back in Lincoln on the following day.
While Pounding the Pavement provides a unique experience to Cedar Bluffs High School students, it is not free to attend as each participant must pay for their own trip.
According to Brousek, the actual cost of this year’s trip to Boston is over $950, but between donations from community and area businesses and surplus money from previous years, they were able to offer the trip at $780.
“When you consider that $470 of that goes into transportation, it’s really pretty inexpensive overall,” he said. “What we have done the last several years is a letter writing campaign to area businesses and this year we had seven area businesses and then our Sons of the American Legion, between them we had $4,000 donated to the fund. The generosity of our area businesses and support of our community has been tremendous ever since we began the program.”
While donations and annual fundraisers have allowed the program to offer students the trip for prices varying between $700-800 rising costs of travel and other expenses have made the program less affordable for students and families.
With rising costs, Brousek has begun a GoFundMe campaign to continue to be able to offer the annual trip, and hopefully reduce the price even more for prospective students.
“What we want to do is start building up our fund so that way we can offer every student that goes kind of a scholarship, and that way we can keep it in the $700 range,” he said. “Ideally we would love to get it down, my dream before I retire is to build up a big enough endowment that we could get this trip for $500 a kid for years and years to come.”
Another reason for initiating the GoFundMe campaign to help provide funds for the trip, was a lack of success in raising the necessary funds during the program’s previous annual fundraiser known as Turkey Bingo.
“We have held what we call Turkey Bingo right before Thanksgiving. You get a bingo, you get a turkey,” Brousek said. “But we weren’t making much profit and some years we were lucky just to break even after having to buy the prizes.”
The goal of Pounding the Pavement’s GoFundMe campaign is to start by raising $2,000 towards next year’s trip.
“Our long term goal is make these annual trips an experience every student can afford, and hopefully we can build up our fund for the students who are currently I the middle and elementary school to be able to participate when they get to high school,” Brousek said.
Those interested in donating to Pounding the Pavement’s GoFundMe, or would like more information about the trips are encouraged to visit https://www.gofundme.com/poundingthepavement.