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PARENTS WILL DECIDE FATE OF HAWAII TRIP

Parents of Murray High School seniors will decide whether having their students travel to Hawaii for a choir competition is in the best interest of their children's education.

The Murray School Board approved a plan by board member Laura Baker to establish guidelines that let the parents and students have more say about the senior a cappella choir and madrigal members' trip each Easter to a competition in Hawaii.Next year's trip to Hawaii depends on how much parents and students support the excursion. The board will decide in the next two weeks whether to approve the trip.

Under the guidelines, any trip that costs $500 or more or involves 30 or more students is the subject of an informational meeting for parents. Parents will be presented three optional sites for the Hawaii trip, Baker said.

Each option's costs will be spelled out and a survey prepared by the principal and choral director involved in the trip will be sent home to parents.

Parents will be asked for their opinions "about the legitimacy of taking an overnight trip," Baker told parents at Wednesday night's meeting.

Baker said a site "that has a simple majority would be the one that's chosen." State law and liability requires that the board OK any overnight trips.

The Hawaii trip costs about $1,000 for each student, including travel, lodging and food. Proponents contend going to the competition is an educational experience in which students earn their own way and learn along the way.

"I think the experience in Hawaii is worth it," said student Veronica Allen, who told the board the trip was a valuable part of her education.

Senior Judy Cook said the day trips that are part of the experience made textbooks come alive. "Our own education took a giant leap forward thanks to your support."

But the costs are a concern for families. Helga Zabriskie is the sole wage earner in her family. And her son wants to go on the trip.

"There would be no way I could help him" with funds, Zabriskie said, adding her son is working part time to pay his way. "If they have a choice to go, I think we should support them. Why do I want to take this away from him? Why do you? Why does anybody?"

Regional Parent-Teacher Association Representative Mary Ann Kirk said costs have to be a consideration for an area in which 25 percent of the students come from singe-parent households.

"We all share a desire to provide a dynamic opportunity for our children to grow," Kirk said in questioning the wisdom in sending kids to Hawaii.

The survey is a way to "make sure there's a forum allowed for the minority to speak up" about the issues surrounding the trip, said Baker.