Ask any high school student what they look forward to most about senior year and you may get answers like: Homecoming, Prom, Last Day of School, or Graduation. But if you ask an Exeter-Milligan student, you have to add Senior Trip to the list. As the senior sponsor it is one of my responsibilities to plan and supervise a multi-day excursion to parts unknown with EM’s graduates to be. Every year the students pick a destination, a rental house and a myriad of activities to be paid for by the money they have earned as a class over the years. Aside from working hard in the classroom and on their various extra curricular activities, they also work the concession stands at ballgames and participate in several other fundraisers to earn money for prom and eventually the Senior Trip.

The Class of 2024 decided to travel to Galveston, Texas, a popular destination lately. At 6:00 AM on April 10th, we piled into a van and drove south. We drove for 14 hours with a few stops here and there for meals and the occasional bathroom break. As day turned to night we reached the end of the road, literally. Interstate 45 south out of Houston heads straight to Galveston Island, and as the numbers on the mile markers count down the anticipation builds. (Unless you are napping in the back of the van.) Then comes the bridge over Galveston Bay and Exit 1A into The City of Galveston and quick right onto 61st Street. A few more blocks of palm tree lined streets and then it happens, the end of the road. Nothing but a sea wall and a few dozen yards of beach separate you and the Gulf of Mexico. 

For many in this class and others before, this is their first glimpse of salt water or any body of water that you can’t take a pontoon across. For me, the feeling never gets old. We made it. Finishing the long drive brings on a sigh of relief, but also a jolt of energy. What will we do first? Answer: Go to Walmart! Yes, one of the many perks of renting a beach house is that you can make your own food, and for that you need supplies. Plates, cups, milk, fruit, sandwich and taco fixin’s, and don’t forget the sunscreen! (I did, I forgot the sunscreen.) After thirty minutes and a few hundred dollars we were back in the van, Yay! This time it is a much shorter trip down Seawall Boulevard to our home for the next few days.

As we pulled in, there were “ooh’s and ahh’s” and at least one “Oh the house is so cute!” After a quick unpack and tour of the house (tour = calling dibs on beds), the shoes were off, the toes were in the water, and you know what was in the sand. The kids had been cooped up in a van for well over half the day and were ready to play, but I was ready for bed! They eventually went to bed as well, and in the morning they were bright eyed and bushy tailed for the adventures that awaited them. 

Our first item on the agenda was a quick trip back up I-45 to Johnson Space Center just outside of Houston. We checked out the museum, the gift shop, and the rockets! Sorry NBA fans, no Yao Ming jerseys for us…I mean the Saturn V rocket. The very type of rocket that put man on the moon in 1969. The enormity of that space vehicle is hard to describe, but I think our group made up entirely of people born after we last set foot on said moon would agree that it was ‘like really big!’ We also were able to tour the mission control center where hundreds of people worked behind the scenes to make sure that Kevin Bacon and Tom Hanks got home safely during Apollo 13. (Shoutout to Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, and Jack Swigert for making that excellent film possible!)

After the space center, the next few days were filled with fun in the sun, crashing waves, nighttime crab hunting, a tour of Galveston Bay, dolphins included, and lots of good food. The sunburns were few and the crab cakes were awesome! Several of our more adventurous foodies tried fried calamari and chicken parmesan made by the EM foods class. We had great conversation and plenty of time to recharge our batteries for what lay ahead…the drive home.

Before we could leave, it wouldn’t be a senior trip without a trip to Pleasure Pier. Jetting out into the gulf and shining with vibrant colors at night, we played everyone’s favorite game: How Many Times In A Row Can Andrew Do The Log Ride Before Everyone Gets Cold And Wants To Go Back To The House? Answer: 3. Two of them with his classmates, and 1 by himself for good measure! We also tried to get my co-pilot, who shall remain nameless (Mrs. Myers) on at least one ride…we failed, but she took a lot of great pictures of Tyler nearly passing out on the Cyclone. When all was said and done we made some late night tacos and headed off to bed. 

The drive home went as planned and other than that smell in Wichita (origin unknown) was uneventful. I think that the Class of 2024 had a good time, I know I did. There may not be too many times left for this group to be together before they walk across the stage in May and turn their tassels, so I hope they will cherish the memories. From the Saturn V sized ones to the crab sized ones, and everything in between. Go Timberwolves!