Two local students selected among inaugural America’s Field Trip awardees

Published 9:49 am Tuesday, July 9, 2024

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO — The American Village and America250Alabama, in collaboration with America250, announced that two Alabama students are among the list of inaugural awardees of America’s Field Trip on Monday, July 8.

America’s Field Trip is a new nationwide initiative that encourages students to reflect on what America means to them and is organized by America 250, the official nonpartisan entity that has been tasked by the U.S. Congress with planning the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

The first year of the competition saw thousands of students from across the United States—and from all grade levels—submit entries that responded to the prompt, “What does America mean to you?” From those thousands of individual submissions, 75 were then selected as first-place winners with another 75 presented with second-place awards.

While second-place winners were granted a cash prize of $500, those selected as first-place awardees will now receive unique experiences from a list of American historical and cultural sites.

Among the list of first-place winners were two students from the state of Alabama—11th grade student Camdyn Martin, a resident of Chelsea, and third-grade student Mary H. of Birmingham.

In her submission to the contest, Martin submitted a reflective essay that highlighted the fact that while America is a great place to live, there is still work to be done before America can be a great place to live for all Americans.

“America means patience,” Martin wrote. “The change that I aspire to see will not be immediate. But all good things in life are worth waiting for. Being steadfast in my advocacy for minority groups in the U.S., as well as surrounding myself with people whose beliefs are similar to mine, will result in some type of change, no matter how big or small. America means a lot of things to me. It’s filled with amazing people and opportunities, as well as struggles and oppressions. But, as long as we continue to fight for a better future, America will continue to grow, and it will truly live up to its title as the greatest country on Earth.”

As with Martin, Mary H. also culminated her thoughts toward America’s promise of potential.

“In America, I can be anything I want to be,” she wrote. “My future begins now.”

State Rep. Kenneth Paschal, who serves as vice-chair of the Alabama USA Semiquincentennial Commission, congratulated both Camdyn and Mary for their accomplishment and for their sharing of what America means to them. This sentiment was also expressed by State Sen. Arthur Orr, who serves as chair of that same commission.

“We are incredibly proud of the two Alabama students selected as awardees in the national America’s field trip contest,” Orr said.

As first place winners, awardees now have the choice of participating in one of the following field trip experiences this summer:

  •  A tour of the Statue of Liberty in New York
  •  A tour and hike at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and Montana
  •  A weekend at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado
  •  Unique tours at the National Archives and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
  •  Tours of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, National Museum of African American History and Culture or the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.
  •  Visit New York City with private tours of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Museum and Learning Center and The Bank of New York, the oldest bank in the United States
  •  Experience the National Parks of Boston with a special visit to the USS Constitution and a sunset cruise to Spectacle Island
  •  A Candlelight tour at Fort Point at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge
  •  A Costumed roleplaying experience at American Village in Alabama

“We’re grateful for all of the students, teachers and families who engaged around America’s Field Trip—one of the first big steps on our long journey together to the Semiquincentennial,” America250 Chair Rosie Rios said. “As we advance towards July 4, 2026, America’s Field Trip will only get bigger, engaging thousands of students around our collective history and giving them a platform to actively participate in envisioning our future.”

In the announcement of winners, it was further revealed that two of the 75 first-place winners had chosen the American Village as their field trip destination.

“American Village is incredibly excited to be included in America 250’s America’s Field Trip initiative alongside sites such as The Statue of Liberty, Yellowstone National Park and the Smithsonian Museum of American History,” American Village CEO Alan Miller said. “We look forward to hosting this year’s winners from Arizona and Maryland. These students have an exciting adventure full of surprises awaiting them at American Village.”