‘The Nugget’ In Missoula

Who Decided This was a Smart Idea?


Melina Scott

Ms. Walsh, the Nugget adviser, on her way to pick up her students for their field trip to Missoula.

Melina Scott , Editor

The school newspaper has admittedly been fading in popularity throughout the past decade. The most exciting thing that has happened has been finding one of our newspapers behind some lockers that got trashed during the Tragic Helena High Fire of 2016 that probably exposed us all to a fair amount of asbestos. Either way, we all know that not a lot of exciting stuff goes on during first period Newspaper (even though it is a great class), which is why we were hyped when our teacher suggested a field trip.

The goal: getting to Missoula by 7:30 on Wednesday, October 10th for a lecture about journalism and how Trump has affected it. The lecture was given by two New York Times journalists: Maureen Dowd, a Pulitzer prize winning journalist and Carl Huse, chief Washington correspondent. As journalists ourselves, we were all super excited to go.

Getting there was another story entirely.

First, we had to rent a van. This was a fairly easy concept; the school thankfully gave us the funds to rent one. The hard part was actually figuring out how to get to it. I had the pleasure of driving to the airport with Ms. Walsh, our amazing Newspaper teacher, who promptly realized she had forgotten her money at home and had to run to get it. After a quick trip to retrieve it we drove back to the airport and then arrived at the school in a sparkling seven person Kia that would later be labeled the TrapVan™ by John and Connor. Because newspaper is a tiny class, almost all of us were able to go and piled in pretty comfortably with one seat to spare for Mia who’d be coming back with us. The race ensued. Thirty minutes behind and at least thirty rap songs later (plus Marcus’s choice of “Starships” by Nicki Minaj), we somehow slid into Missoula by five thirty at which point Ms. Walsh nearly left the TrapVan™ on and running and Connor almost broke himself with some failed parkour. Thank goodness neither of those things happened.

Before the lecture we grabbed some dinner at Biga Pizza, where we bought some sort of pizza that had maple, bacon, and chipotle, somehow? Surprisingly, it was amazing, but John and Connor, the dynamic duo of our trip, just custom-ordered a meat-lovers because, as John says, “It was so good and we didn’t wanna deal with your weird stuff.” We also got a Flathead Cherry and a Sicilian, which were delicious as well.

After pizza, we arrived thirty minutes early to the University of Montana and struggled to find the theater where the lecture was being given. It shouldn’t be left out that, this entire time, Ms. Walsh was at least ten steps ahead of most of us because she, “[doesn’t] like walking slow. It’s ridiculous!”  The lecture was about an hour and a half, and the speakers discussed multiple political issues and standpoints in the media revolving not only around Washington D.C but also around Montana politics specifically. Perhaps the most surprising point was when Connor got up to ask a question. Sadly, somebody else asked the question and he had to go sit back down. The lecture itself was actually very educational, but probably more about politics than actual reporting.

After the end of the lecture, the perhaps most important part of the entire trip ensued.

We got to picked up Ivar, a sheltie dog belonging to Ms. Walsh’s aunt and uncle. I cannot stress the adorableness of this dog enough; imagine a corgi but with longer hair and a better face. We picked him up to take to our place of residence: Ms. Walsh’s parents cabin in Polson, which is an hour away from Missoula. This was time enough for Ivar to sit on Connor’s leg and put it painfully to sleep. Upon looking back, Connors words were, “It was terrible. Definitely the worst part of the vacation.” It was pretty great for the rest of us though. On the way to Polson, we made one U-turn for some Baja Blasts since Helena unfortunately does not have a Taco Bell. Get on it, city council.

Upon arriving at the cabin, we were all promptly shook. Ms. Walsh’s family cabin is lit. We don’t know how she ended up as a teacher, to be honest. On the shoreline of Flathead lake,  the cabin is in an absolutely beautiful location. We dropped our stuff in our rooms (there’s six in the place) and made s’mores around a small fire Ms. Walsh’s dad had made for us until one of us, who definitely wasn’t myself, spilled the bag of marshmallows, giving us a great reason to throw some of them into the lake. In retrospect, that was probably something we shouldn’t have done in. Marcus also found a stuffed moose somewhere that could have very well been his new soulmate.

Close to midnight we headed inside for some shut eye, which of course didn’t happen. Instead of sleeping like responsible and sensible people that did have school the next day, we stayed up watching Friends and seeing how many people we could pile onto one couch. The majority of us stayed up until at least two in the morning, which wasn’t smart at all.

When we finally did wake up from what couldn’t have been more than four hours of sleep, Ms. Walsh’s mom had made eggs, bacon, and blueberry pancakes with huckleberry sauce that we for some reason decided to call “the purple.”

The drive back was sleepy at best, considering all of us except Ms. Walsh had decided to go to bed in the early hours of that same morning. We finally got back to school after some slightly terrifying passing lane experiences and one stop at Starbucks in Missoula, because none of us were honestly going to stay awake without caffeine.

I’m not sure if any of us, besides Ms. Walsh of course, stayed at school after that; we probably all went home and took naps. We can all safely say that the trip was probably the first highlight (or maybe second, we made a pretty cool game I’ll describe in a different article) of our 2019-2020 school year, and hopefully we’ll go on many more.

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