American History students Olivia Benda and Katie Eimers enjoyed seeing the vintage war planes at the Estrella Warbirds Museum during a field trip. Photo by Brenda Beccera.
On Thursday, May 9, American History teacher Ms. Highland took her students on her annual field trip to the Estrella Warbirds Museum in Paso Robles. The trip gives students a chance to see actual historical artifacts up close and benefit from the expert docents there who are a wealth of knowledge.
Ms. Highland has been taking her students to the museum for the past six years, a trip made possible by her applying for a CAPS (Committee for Atascadero Public Schools) grant each year. The students toured the museum, where they saw military aviation artifacts, aircraft, memorabilia, and some historical articles. This museum is famous for the variety of aircraft there. Students also saw military equipment as big as tanks and airplanes and as small as a soldier’s personal items to be used in the field and their uniforms.
Junior Jocabet Soto said, “My favorite part[s] of the museum [were] the airplanes and the tanks. It’s amazing how they still have them after all these years.” Fellow student Ashley Curtiss said, “I enjoyed seeing the ambulances. It was very fascinating because I would like to become an EMT.”
The equipment are not the only gems in the collection at the Estrella Warbirds Museum. The docents are also part of the experience. Noah Meade said, “One of my favorite parts of the trip was hearing the stories behind the aircraft. The staff really know the history and you can tell they are very passionate about their attraction.”
Ms. Highland knows that history comes alive outside the textbooks. She said, “Field trips to the Estrella Warbirds Museum are great because they give students a chance to see articles from real history up close. The displays are well done and the docents are well versed in information--in fact, some are military veterans.”
Ms. Highland has left an indelible mark on her students as she goes above and beyond the duties of an ordinary teacher by taking her students on this trip each year, even recruiting her husband as a chaperone and tour guide. She realizes that students sometimes need hands-on learning. Sam Bordan said, “It was fun going in the tanks, and Mr. Highland was bomb. I want to visit the guns again.” He wasn’t the only student who appreciated Ms. Highland’s husband. Brenda Becerra said, “I encourage students to go and see all the vehicles, tanks, and planes. It was very fun, and Mr. Highland was a great tour guide. Olivia Benda added, “I really enjoyed getting to see the original and replica uniforms, sitting on the tanks, and seeing the car collection. I also liked how knowledgeable Mr. Highland is.”
This was the last trip for Ms.Highland because she is retiring at the end of this school year, and she hopes the annual field trip continues with her replacement.