Class Trip of a Lifetime

A Silver Lining to Hurricane Harvey

by Melissa Clifton

As a Houston-based company, Hurricane Harvey impacted many of School Tours of America’s students, teachers, employees and families. We felt the loss that was experienced by so many, witnessed the triumphant heroes who emerged from within our community, and embraced the support of helpful neighbors throughout the US. During the one year anniversary of this devastating storm, we reflect on a heartwarming travel experience shared by some of our most impacted students.

“Being able to escape the destruction while expanding student’s worldview will be a healing, growing experience for students...” Kimberly Gallaspy, Henderson Middle School Science teacher - Photo credit: GoFundMe

Henderson Middle School, located in an area of Texas that was devastated by the floodwaters of Hurricane Harvey in September of 2017, was chosen by the Student Youth Travel Association (SYTA) Youth Foundation as the recipient of the aptly named Silver Lining Program. As part of the program, thirty middle school students were selected by the school based on behavior, grades, attendance and an interview process. The students were provided an all-expense-paid educational tour to the city of Philadelphia with travel arranged by School Tours of America.

Photo credit: The Times of Chester County

Kimberly Gallaspy, the teacher who nominated Henderson Middle School for the Silver Lining program, expressed: “In a year of natural disaster and loss, being able to escape the destruction while expanding student’s worldview will be a healing, growing experience for students who are restricted by location, devastation and economics. An educational trip of this magnitude will generate much needed excitement among the students and members of our small, rural community.”

The Henderson Middle School students spent 3 days in June 2018 experiencing the power of travel on a School Tours of America tour program to the “City of Brotherly Love,” Philadelphia. Our expert Tour Coordinators custom planned an educationally and culturally immersive itinerary which included some important sites: the Museum of the American Revolution, the National Constitution Center and the Penn Museum. The Henderson students also experienced a meeting with Ben Franklin at the top of One Liberty Observation Deck, a unique city view from the Spirit of Philadelphia cruiser, and LOTS OF FUN!

Photo credit: SYTA Youth Foundation facebook page

This educational journey was a true silver lining- a break from the long road to recovery which naturally follows an event such as Hurricane Harvey. We hope this group tour was, as Mrs. Gallaspy stated, an exciting, healing and growing experience for the students of Henderson Middle School. School Tours of America is proud to support SYTA in their mission to bring life changing, educational travel experiences to the children who need it most. To explore a sample Philadelphia itinerary, or to inquire about an exciting class trip for your students, please visit our website at

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