STOCKTON, Calif. (KXTV/WUSA9) - Nearly two dozen seventh and eighth graders from Stockton watched a year's worth of planning turn sour because of the federal government shutdown.
The students from Benjamin Holt Preparatory Academy took a red eye flight to New York Sunday night and visited Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty on Monday. But they awoke Tuesday to find their scheduled visit to Independence Hall in Philadelphia had to be scrapped because many federal landmarks are closed.
Wednesday's planned tour of the National Archives and U.S. Capitol was cancelled along with Friday's trip to the Smithsonian complex.
Tuesday, parent and program leader Rich Allyn scrambled to find alternate attractions not under federal control. Stacey Nunes said her 13-year-old son, Andrew, raised the entire $2,038 cost of the trip himself.
"I'm outraged that this has happened to them, that this once-in-a-lifetime experience has taken a completely different turn," she said.
Wednesday, the group was able to find other places to visit in the D.C. area and in Virginia. Students were supposed to go to Arlington Cemetery for a wreath-laying on Wednesday morning and then visit Mount Vernon. Allyn says they are also going to get to see Monticello on Thursday.
"We've seen all kinds of things and we are planning on seeing much more. Sure, there may be the main nuts and bolts of Washington, D.C. that are shut down but there's so much more that we've adjusted our schedule to be able to have our kids see it," says Allyn. He says they have a full schedule now.
About the shutdown's impact on the trip, Allyn says it's a history lesson for the children. He tells us, "I think if they were sitting at home doing nothing, they wouldn't even know that the government shut down. But they can look back 20 years from now and go, 'oh, I remember when they shut down. I was in D.C. at that time and this is how it affected me.'"
Despite the shutdown, Allyn says, "We are moving forward and we're having a fantastic time here in D.C."