Kyle Franck and his classmates from Fortuna Union High School recently traveled to the East Coast for Travel Squad. As part of his travels Franck was chosen to lay the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Travel Squad is a school based program that allows upperclassmen to travel during their school year for educational purposes. There are high standards for Travel Squad in order to qualify including nomination by a teacher. In addition a qualifying grade point average must be maintained and no disciplinary actions on record.
Franck was nominated by several teachers and with the supervision of staff the group of travelers spent the whole school year planning for their May trip. The group worked hard over nine months to raise the necessary funds including having a spaghetti dinner.
As a parent it can be nerve-wracking to send your child cross country.
"If my son was not as responsible as he is he would not be going," Wendy Hummel, Franck's mother, said. "I know he has a good head on his shoulders. He wasn't nervous. He was just excited."
Travel Squad went to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York City. When asked what the most memorable event of the trip Franck said, "It was by far the laying of the wreath. It was the most powerful thing I have ever been a part of. It was amazing!"
Hummel was amazed at the ground they traveled.
"They walked 110 miles in five days!" she said.
Franck worked at his family's business, Hummel's, in Fortuna to help raise funds for the trip.
"It was great to be able to see all of our landmarks like the White House and the Capitol building," he said. "I feel like I am a better rounded person now."
Franck said that when he was laying the wreath, all he could think about was what an honor it was.
"I was glad my back was to the camera for the picture as I was so overwhelmed with emotions tears were streaming down my face," he said. "You could feel the power of the site."
Franck said he highly recommends being a part of Travel Squad to underclassmen and future high school students .
"Focus on your schooling and your grades," he said. "You have to be mentally focused to go so you can take in what you are seeing and truly appreciate everything."
Franck talked about walking through history and seeing where it actually took place -- something many people only dream of doing.
"This made the whole journey more powerful and I appreciate it much more," he said.
Travel Squad was able to hear President Obama speak, see Vietnam and WWII memorials, the 9/11 site, Broadway plays, and a Yankee game. To find out if your child's future or current high school has a travel squad, contact the school's office for more information.
Fortuna Union High School Travel Squad members stand before the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Kyle Franck stands in front between a female classmate and one of the soldiers who stands guard at the Tomb as he places the wreath to show unending respect to the unknown soldiers.