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The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

    Juniors and Seniors Forced to Choose Between Civil Rights Trip and Play

    The class of 2023 History Class in front of Martin Luther King Jr.’s House (Courtesy of Nora Brennan)

    The annual IB History Civil Rights trip provides seniors enrolled in IB History with the opportunity to explore key locations of the Civil Rights Movement in Georgia and Alabama. This year, the trip was opened to juniors enrolled in IB History due to a lack of senior interest in the trip. The trip will take place during tech week for the upper school theater performance of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” With this conflict, many students were forced to make a difficult decision on what to prioritize and, subsequently, what to miss out on. 

    Junior and Higher Level (HL) IB History student Maddy Fine, who is also very involved in WIS’s theater program, was initially disheartened when she found out about the conflicting scheduling. 

    “Immediately, some disbelief,” Fine said. “But then, once it settled in, I was pretty shocked and dismayed.”  

    Despite trying her hardest to find a way out of the conflict, Fine soon realized that she would have to decide between the two. “I spoke to all the parties involved, and they all seemed sympathetic to my case but acknowledged the reality that there wasn’t a lot that could be done there,” Fine said. 

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    IB History teacher Don Boehm, who will be going on the trip, recognizes the difficulty of the situation for many students. While they attempted to revise the schedule, the teachers were not able to change the timing of any of the events. “We talked and wanted to find a solution but it just wasn’t possible,” Boehm said. “[The conflict] forced people to make a very difficult choice, [and] we didn’t want to put kids in that position.” 

    While for many, the decision that Boehm alluded to was difficult, all who were forced to make it ended up choosing the play. “I feel like that decision to put the history trip [at that time] effectively nullified the participation of people who are interested in theater,” Fine said. “No one who has that true passion feels like they’re really able to say, ‘no, I can’t do the play this year.’ It’s too important to us.”  

    Fine ultimately made her decision quite early in the process, emphasizing the profound importance of theater in her life. “I think I always knew all along that I was going to choose the play if it came down to that,” Fine said. “It’s just the most meaningful thing I do… I feel like I’m gaining skills in my productions that seem like in the long run they’ll be a lot more valuable than some of the stuff I’m learning in my classes. So it’s something that, really, you can’t understate.”

    Senior and Standard Level (SL) History student Solveig Unteroberdoester expressed her excitement about choosing to go on the trip but acknowledged the choices that her classmates were making.

    “Many are choosing theater because otherwise, the play would be undercast,” Unteroberdoester said. “It also saves some money, so it might be the advantageous choice.” 

    However, For many the decision was not as clear-cut. Junior Samu Peto-Benedek, who also faced the decision, expressed uncertainty about his choice to perform in the play instead of the trip. “I still don’t know if I’ve made the right decision,” Peto-Benedek said. 

    Both Fine and Peto-Benedek hope that the departments find a way to avoid conflicts like these in the future so that students do not have to pick which aspect of their life at WIS they prioritize.

    “I do feel like better communication could have possibly avoided this, it couldn’t have really hurt to maybe reach out to the theater department in advance about this,” Fine said. “It would have been nice to feel like there had been a little more of an attempt to communicate before setting the trip in stone.”

    Peto-Benedek suggested that dates for events like these should be decided earlier in the year to allow for better planning. “I feel like the dates for these things should be nailed down very early in the year so that planning and adjustments can be done as soon as possible,” he said. 

    Boehm acknowledged that this scheduling clash was not noticed until it was too late, and that it was then no longer possible to adjust. “It’s just one of those things that fell through the cracks of the calendar,” he said. 

    This situation has put many students in uncomfortable positions. The Civil Rights trip is a keystone part of the IB History program. However, there are only four plays one can be a part of throughout all of high school. 

    “I’d been really excited to go on this trip,” Fine said. “But then, on the other hand, theater is also just deeply, deeply important to me at WIS, so it was pretty unfortunate to me that both of my two dearly held interests would coincide in that way.”

    By Kas Salehi and Zoya Zwart


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    About the Contributors
    Kas Salehi, Sports Editor
    Hi, I’m Kas. I’m a junior and this is my second year as the Sports Editor at Dateline. I have been writing for three years and I enjoy writing about personal stories and profiles within sports. Outside of Dateline I enjoy playing tennis and the guitar. 
    Zoya Zwart, Backpage Editor
    Hi!! I’m Zoya. I am currently a junior and the Back Page Editor for Dateline. I have been in Dateline since sophomore year and I like to write funny stories just about anything and opinion pieces. I enjoy soccer, playing guitar, and just about anything outdoors. 

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