Twelve sixth- and seventh-graders from Wilbur H. Lynch Literacy Academy walked the red carpet Monday, then ducked into a gray stretch limousine.
Judging from the excitement in the air, one might have thought they were attending the Academy Awards, but nope, they were headed out to meet city officials and tour local historic sites as part of a trip sponsored by The Broadcaster, the school’s newspaper.
Students chosen for the trip are standouts who show respect, ownership and a positive attitude and act responsibly and safely in school, said Julie Pendt, a school psychologist who chaperoned the trip.
To qualify for the outing, they also had to answer questions about Amsterdam’s history and figure out the city’s latitude and longitude.
The group waited anxiously in the school’s lobby for the limo to arrive and talked about what they wanted to see and learn on the trip.
Sixth-grader Divine Diplan was eager to ask the city historian and the mayor how they chose their jobs. She also hoped to see a castle.
Tyler Krackow, another sixth-grader, planned to ask the mayor why people are only allowed to park on one side of the road in the winter.
Jacob Reed, a sports reporter for the school’s newspaper, said he knew a lot about the city’s sports teams but was interested to learn more about its history. He said he would write an article about the trip for The Broadcaster, but didn’t bring a notebook along. “I’m keeping all the notes up here,” he explained, pointing to his head.
The first stop for the group was City Hall, a stately brick structure with grand Romanesque pillars. The kids sported wide smiles as they exited the limousine. They agreed that the ride was pretty cool, but lamented the fact that the limo’s built-in TVs weren’t turned on.
Cellphones came out in the City Hall lobby, where they shot selfies by the Redmond Clock, a scroll saw fretwork dome clock built in 2007 by Ronald Redmond.
“This does not look like a clock. It looks like a castle,” Divine announced.
Seventh-grader Spencer Flint had his phone out over by the drinking fountain. “This is completely astonishing,” he said with sarcasm, clicking a shot of the nondescript metal contraption. Joking aside, he admitted he was really interested in the flint arrowheads found in a nearby glass case.
City Historian Robert Von Hasseln met the students at City Hall and joined them for a short ride to the Sanford Stud Farm, which was founded in the 1870s by carpet-manufacturing innovator Stephen Sanford.
As the group stood in the parking lot of a strip mall built at the former site of an outdoor horse training track, Von Hasseln pointed to the weathered white barns nearby.
“A lot of the horses that were raised up here went on to be internationally famous,” he told the kids.
He explained that their school’s colors — purple and gold — were the livery colors jockeys wore when they raced Sanford’s horses.
“That’s why those colors are on the city flag, too,” he noted.
After the quick stop at the farm, the kids hopped back into the limo and were on their way to lunch with the mayor back at City Hall.
The Broadcaster raised $300 for the trip through ad sales. Reed said he was glad to see the money he helped raise go toward something educational.