A Triad Couple Is Upset With Colfax Elementary School Officials After A Underground Railroad Re-enactment During A School Field Trip
HIGH POINT, N.C. -- A two-night field trip to Haw River State Park in April upset the parents of an 11- year-old Colfax Elementary student.
David & Wanda Bray said they thought her daughter Kylee was going to be learning about science and the environment during the trip.
"We had no idea. All we knew was they were going on a science trip," David Bray, the 5th grader's father said. "There was no itinerary or timeline."
Bray told WFMY News 2, his fifth grade student and others participated in a re-enactment of the Underground Railroad.
"It just made me feel like, I was a runaway slave. I felt like that spirit from the runaway slaves just came back through me and it made me feel uncomfortable. I never wanted to be a slave. I didn't have a choice. They told us, we are going to be a slave," said Kylee Bray.
Kylee's parents said they found out about the re-enactment after their daughter returned from the field trip at the Haw River State Park in Browns Summit.
"We feel like it should have been full disclosure because had my husband and I known about this, we would have definitely have not participated," said Wanda Bray.
The Haw River State Park trip is an annual school field trip. In April, teachers took about 80 students to the state park.
"It is unfortunate and I'm sorry that one student felt this way," said Tamika Jones, a 5th grade teacher, who was on the trip.
Michelle Thigpen is the principal of Colfax Elementary School. She said they discussed the Underground Railroad re-enactment earlier in the school year during the field trip itinerary meeting. Thigpen acknowledged that details of the re-enactment were left off the permission slip.
"The focus is not on making students slaves or having them act like slaves," Jones said. "They didn't do anything but walk to next place."
Thigpen said this is a lesson for Colfax staffers and future school-approved itineraries will be very clear and detailed.
"Moving forward we are going to make sure our information on the field trip forms is very explicit," Thigpen said. "So, parents are well aware of what activities and expectations are in place for students to participate in a field trip."
But Colfax teacher, Holly Harris told WFMY News 2, she doesn't want this mistake or oversight to put a negative light on field trips.
"I understand that we should have more explicitly given more information about the field trip. We have all come to that realization that it was a mistake and going forward we need to give more information about it," Harris said.
She also says the school needs to give parents the opportunity to opt out of an activity that might not be suitable for their child.