WASHINGTON, D.C. -- For any visitor to Washington, D.C., a visit to the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum can be exciting. But for a first-time visitor, it is a must.

  • More than 2 dozen students from Tarboro visited Washington D.C. this week.
  • The three-day field trip was funded partially by a GoFundMe.
  • The GoFundMe raised over $8,000, more than $3,000 over it's initial goal. 

This week, more than two dozen students from Princeville Elementary School in Edgecombe County had a chance to stop by the museum as part of a three-day trip to the nation’s capital, paid for, at least in part, by donations from total strangers.



“It’s kind of like a gift for us, to visit all this stuff and learn something new,” said Ashley Silva, a 5th grader at the school.

Vann Newkirk II, a writer for the Atlantic Magazine, created a GoFundMe page to help pay for the school trip. His mom - an educator in the area - had introduced him to the school principal. 

All told, the GoFundMe page generated more than $8,000 in donations, far exceeding the goal of $5,000.

Newkirk, whose hometown is Rocky Mount, said he was inspired to help in part because the Princeville community is still struggling to bounce back after damaging floods caused by Hurricane Matthew in 2016. 

"Princeville is poor. It's mostly black, and young folks there face problems from all sides," he said in a video posted on the GoFundMe page. "Opportunity is hard to come by in good times, and now is most certainly not a good time."

The storm rocked the community, and flooded the elementary school. They still have not been able to move back into their school building, though they hope to within a year once repairs are complete.

“After a storm, after about three or four months, most of us forget and think everything is fine, but so many of our families are still struggling,” said Annette Walker, principal of the school.

Walker and the students were thrilled by the generosity of people online.

In addition to visiting museums, during the eye-opening D.C. trip, the students also had a chance to tour the Capitol Building and explore the National Mall, seeing some of the memorials and monuments.

“You can learn more history … and it’s exciting,” said Jamiya Hinton, a 5th grader.

Walker hopes the trip will help “equal” the playing field for her students, and help launch them into the future.

“It’s new opportunities, new experiences," she said. "Things that they will see ... that they’ve never seen before – that they’ve read about, heard about, dreamed about, but never thought that this would be possible."

On his GoFundMe page, Newkirk said any money raised that is left over after the trip will be donated to the school itself.

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