Family outraged by simulation of underground railroad during middle school field trip

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Family upset by simluation of underground railroad

What was supposed to be nothing more than an educational field trip about science and nature for some junior high school students ended up being highly controversial and for one family, very offensive.

A family is outraged over a simulation of an underground railroad during the school field trip.

McKinley Junior High School students where spending several days in March at Nature's Classroom Institute in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. They spent several days studying nature, and conducting science experiments.

However, on the last night of the field trip, the family tells WLS-TV there was an activity which simulated the underground railroad.

The underground railroad was a network of safe houses and routes for slaves to make their way to free states during the 19th century.

"It talked about how we were runaways and our cover story was we were a singing choir from Georgia called The Peaches," says student Baily Peterson. She added that teachers, who were chaperones during the field trip, took part in the activity.

"She was nervous about telling me that she felt funny about it, because all the students were black and the teachers were white," says Baily's mother, Dawn Peterson, adding there was no communication in any paperwork that the underground railroad was part of the field trip.

The superintendent of South Holland School District 150, Jerry Jordan, responded about the activity, saying it was a misunderstanding. "There is a perception that we had the kids being chased by white folks that night, in the dark, through the woods. That's not what took place. It was a night hike," Jordan said.

Jordan added in the future, there will be better communication about activities on classroom field trips.
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