Online students gather in St. John's for annual field trip

 Michigan Connections Academy students gather at Uncle John's for their annual field trip.
Michigan Connections Academy students gather at Uncle John's for their annual field trip. (WILX)
Published: Oct. 4, 2019 at 8:09 AM EDT
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In this edition of Schools Rule, WILX News 10 is looking at field trips!

With back to school comes meeting new friends, seeing old classmates and meeting your teachers.

Even for online students. Michigan Connections Academy's annual field trip to Uncle John's Apple Orchard is designed to get students to know each other in person.

"We work hard to build these relationships, and just to watch them continue year after year is just a really cool thing," said Amy Dunlap, Field Trip Coordinator with Michigan Connections Academy.

One way of keeping those connections going is the annual back to school field trip. Every September, students and families from across the entire state gather at Uncle John's.

"It's important for our kids to be able to get time to interact with each other and with their teachers," continued Dunlap. "It's a good place for that relationship building."

For 2019, that meant more than 880 students were at the field trip. Usually, students get their lessons virtually and interact with teachers and peers online.

So meeting up in person can be the perfect way to connect.

"Just being able to meet people in person and it's not just online," Tessa Wisham, a seventh grader, explained as to why she attended the field trip.

2019-2020 is Tessa's first school year with Michigan Connections Academy.

"S lot of my teachers would ignore the questions I had, so I knew I would be able to get a lot of help from here," Wisham explained on why she made the move.

And she's not alone in that. Suzanne Bazzi has four students enrolled in Michigan Connections Academy.

"This is one field trip that we never ever miss, it's like a tradition," laughed Bazzi.

She says she likes the flexibility that schooling from home offers and appreciates the chance to meet her children's teachers in person.

"It feels good to give somebody a hug and say, 'Hi' and, 'This is who I am,' and it's not just over the computer," said Bazzi. "I get to watch my kids go through their troubles and go through things that they love, like the subjects that they're great at, you get to watch them excel and be excited about."

Michigan Connections Academy hosts field trips throughout the school year. Dunlap says it gives their virtual students a chance to connect and still get the field trip experience.

Copyright 2019 WILX. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.