To reward your students for graduating from middle school into high school, you should create a memorable field trip experience. Obviously, a limited budget for your school or students can limit the potential destinations, but even a small excursion can be extremely enjoyable. Once you have determined a fair budget that incorporates what the school can part with and what the child's parents can spare, then you will have a much better idea of what trips you can go on. Try to set aside a few extra spots on the trip to allow students who are financially disadvantaged to go.
While it can be difficult to keep track of a large group when traveling to a large urban area, students will have a hard time forgetting their experience. Traveling to a nearby city requires setting up several tourist destinations like an aquarium, a history museum or a national landmark. Also, as each city has its own unique architecture, you can use the trip to follow up on your eighth-grade architecture, city planning, and technology education lessons. You will need to rent out a bus, which can be a school bus or an air-conditioned coach bus if you can afford the additional cost. It is a good idea to keep the students together in a certain area, giving them very little leeway to go off walking on their own.
Touring the state capital with your students can give them a better sense of how the government functions. This will tie in directly with your eighth grade units on government, social studies and politics. Call ahead to the offices of your state governor and senators to see what kinds of tours they offer. Often, you will be able to find an inexpensive or free tour for your students. Tour as many government buildings as you can, and gain access to any archived pictures or video presentations as well. If you live in a state with historical significance like one with a civil war battlefield or the site of an important moment in history, you can plan to stop there on the way to the state capital.
Depending on the time of year of your trip and the location within the country, there are often many different festivals you can visit. You could visit a cultural festival like a German, Polish or Irish celebration and sample the food and the festivities to tie in to your 8th grade lessons on world history. There may be a literary or artistic festival in your area replete with various types of art, literature, dancing and music for your children to experience. These festivals will expose your students to forms of art they've never seen and can pursue further in high school. One entertaining type of festival is a Renaissance Fair, which allows your children to eat the food of the middle ages while watching jousting and human chess. Students will appreciate the ability to walk around at the festival and experience what it has to offer.
If you live in a warm part of the country and are within several hours of the ocean, a day beach trip works well for a graduation field trip. Lead students around the boardwalk to look for food and souvenirs, or they can go into the water to swim and play water sports. Also, as many eighth grade curriculum include units on oceanography, the tide and the environment, there are many science tie-ins you can make during your trip. Depending on how far away you are from the ocean, it may be the first time that some children have seen it at that age, which will truly be memorable. Make sure your kids wear plenty of sunscreen and that they reapply after going into the water.