I had to fight to get James included with this fifth grade peers this year. Despite a clear IEP, it took several sounds of meetings, many emails, and a lawyer or two to enforce it. When the dust settled and James was finally with his peers, it was January. It took more emails to get included on the class email list, and there were 3 field trips left in the year by then.
Release of the steelhead fry in a local creek was the first we could make, and it was a great trip. The day was sunny and cloudy, neither too hot or chilly for the fish or the kids. The class was literally all over the rocks and boulders, like bouncing ping pong balls. James started off by himself, watching, and eventually ended up under a grove of trees with some other boys.
Magnifying glasses came out and the kids lifted rocks to look for life forms underneath. They called out to each other to come see when they found something. They were excited as heck to be out of a classroom and exploring. The Mom Chaperones shouted out to those who strayed too far in their explorations ... there were some very enthusiastic discoverers in the group!
We had snacks and then headed down to the water's edge of Brush Creek, where the fry were somewhat acclimated to fresh water temps. The kids broke into groups to check the pH levels and water temperatures. They were going to turn in their data for scientific research. James stood apart watching, and was then called over by a group of kids, so he would not be left out. Right there, I felt all the struggles of this year were worth it. I was so happy to watch this inclusion just happen.
James' job was to report pH levels, which he did just fine. He then wandered up and down, observing other groups and having a great time climbing around the rocks. The fish were getting impatient, trying to swim out of their plastic cups.
The fish were released and cheered on as they swam away to freedom. After a bit of excited talking amongst themselves, the kids were rounded up for a class photo (my battery was out at this point, unfortunately) and then driven back to school. Did James have a good time?
Yes! Totally, totally worth it. At last!