Freshman Students Tour Art Museum

Students Are Offered the Opportunity to Visit Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art


Carole Medlock

A small tour group from Alma High School Freshman Academy walks past a brightly painted wall at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The group was there as a part of a class-wide field trip offered for all freshman students.

Carole Medlock, Adviser

Freshman students from Alma High School visited a local art museum Wednesday as a part of a class-wide field trip designed to introduce students to art and promote community among the students and teachers.

Four buses carried about 135 students to Bentonville where they toured Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. About the same number of freshman students made the same trip last week to explore the museum.

While at the museum, students were led on a guided tour where they explored specific works of art that fit a particular theme, “The Writing is on the Wall.” They were encouraged to use their imagination to craft stories about the art they were seeing. At the end of the tour, each student was asked to pick their own piece of art and write a story about it.

All of the students were also provided “free” time to explore the museum on their own and hike the nature trails available on the museum grounds.

Crystal Bridges was founded in 2005 by the Walton Family Foundation. The trip was made possible for Alma High School students by the Willard and Pat Walker School Visit Program, which offers schools reimbursement for all out of pocket expenses associated with the trip including transportation, substitute teacher, and lunch, according to information on the Crystal Bridges website.

Alma officials started offering the trip for freshman four years ago not only to provide them an opportunity to connect with art, but also in an effort to allow students and teachers to connect with one another and form relationships, a philosophy adopted by the high school’s “freshman academy” concept.

Sara Putman, a faculty member of the freshman academy and English department head, first proposed the idea for the field trip. Seeing the trip was a success, school administrators soon made the trip an annual event.

“For a lot of (our students), it is the first (and only) time they will go to an art museum,” Putman said.

“As each year passes and more teachers know what to expect, we are able to develop curriculum that prepares students for their experience and helps to make it more meaningful,”

— Sara Putman, Alma High School English Department Head

This year’s seniors were the first to experience the field trip to the museum four years ago, Putman said. She hopes the trip will continue to be offered for years to come.