Osceola Elementary third grade thankful for community support
Each year the third-grade classes at Osceola Elementary get to go on a very special field trip thanks to a woman none of them will ever meet: Gloria Byrd. Byrd passed away in May 2013, but her legacy lives on thanks to her daughter, Amy Byrd-Donlick, who teaches third grade at the school, and Gloria Byrd’s friends.
Eighty-five third-grade students will board two charter buses on May 9 for a field trip to an Orlando attraction, either Animal Kingdom or Sea World – that detail hasn’t been finalized. Without the charter bus, tickets to the parks start at $79.95 a person, a price that would be too much for some families to spend.
Byrd-Donlick grew up in the Ormond Beach area. Her parents, Gloria and Bryant, owned beachside hotels and she attended the school where she now teaches.
Every year in anticipation of the spring field trip, Byrd-Donlick writes letters to her mother’s friends, specifically the members of The Garden Club of the Halifax Country and St. James Episcopal Church. These were the groups her mother was involved in. The donations reduce the cost for students to less than $20 each and Byrd-Donlick is hoping for it to be $10 to $15 this year.
Soon after the letters go out, the donations start coming in. According to Principal Kevin Flassig, Byrd-Donlick has raised more than $12,000 for field trips in the past two years. Money left over from the third-grade trip is used for the fifth-grade trip to the Kennedy Space Center.
Byrd-Donlick said none of it would be possible without the support of her mother’s friends.
“They know the kids benefit directly from their donations,” Byrd-Donlick said.
This is Byrd-Donlick’s ninth year teaching at Osceola and raising money for field trips. She taught at Ortona Elementary in the 1990s and Iron Horse Saloon gave the classes their beer cans from Bike Week to crush and recycle.
“The kids would stomp on the cans and we would cash them in for money for field trips. We couldn’t do that today,” she laughed. “Iron Horse was great to us, and one year they offered to recycle the cans and just send us the check.”
The field trip is more than fun; it’s a learning experience that encompasses environmental and animal studies, and good manners.
“The students write thank you notes to the donors after the field trip,” Byrd-Donlick said. “Not because they have to, but because it’s the right thing to do.”