DERRY | The School Board is taking a close look at the district's field trip policy to ensure that all school-time excursions match up with what's going on in the classroom.

At a board meeting last week, Superintendent Mary Ellen Hannon said the district is reviewing its policy to make sure that all trips are curriculum-related.

"There are reasons and factors that should be in place to select a trip," she said.

Over the last few years, Hannon said, the district has made some changes in its policy and had some discussions about what a field trip should involve.

Last year, Derry classes took more than 30 trips, with students in grades one through five going to locations like Sturbridge Village and the SEE Science Center in Manchester.

Going over school policies every year is nothing unusual, Hannon said, adding that the field trip policy is being looked at so input can be provided about how to choose trips that extend and complement what's being taught in the classroom.

In the past, Hannon said, some trips have seemed a bit unwarranted, like trips to see an IMAX movie or an afternoon at a baseball game.

"All our field trips need to be curriculum relevant," she said.

This particular policy deals with trips that take place during the school day, not overnight trips planned by a school's history or travel club, where much of the cost is borne by the participating students and parent chaperones.

Many schools in the area offer trips to students as part of special activities, as in the case of the Pinkerton Academy music department, which regularly travels to springtime festivals in Orlando or New York City to compete in choral and band competitions. Pinkerton also offers an annual trip to China to visit its "sister" school, Tenggu No. 1, in Tianjin. Chinese students annually visit Pinkerton in the fall.

For Hannon, it's the regular daytime trips that need to be defined. She said staff and officials have spent the last two years going over the Derry district policy, and teachers make a list of trips they feel are appropriate for students to take during the school year.

In the case of attending a movie theater that may be showing a historical piece or a film that is relevant to what a class is studying, Hannon said it would be best to wait until the film is out on DVD so it could be incorporated into the classroom setting.

And sometimes, it might be best to get a guest speaker into the classroom who can make for an educational journey inside the school's walls, Hannon said.

The longer, overnight trips, like the annual journeys to Washington, D.C., or Gettysburg, are important, she added, as a "rite of passage" for the older students who always look forward to the trips and learn so much about the history of those areas.

"We just need to make sure the field trips match the curriculum," Hannon said.

The School Board will continue to review the field trip policy and is expected to take a vote at a future meeting.

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