Synergy Students Learn about Famous Sled Dog in Virtual Field Trip

Students in the Synergy Virtual High School at CiTi BOCES recently participated in a virtual field trip to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History to learn the true story behind Balto, a real canine hero popularized in in film and other media.


On Tuesday, March 12, Synergy students were invited to meet virtually with Ed Hutchinson, a staff member for the museum. Hutchinson told the story of Balto, an Alaskan husky who – along with sled driver Gunnar Kaasen – helped lead a team of sled dogs in delivering vital medicine to the residents of Nome, Alaska in 1925. Balto has frequently been popularized and fictionalized since his famous run, most famously in the 1995 animated film “Balto.”


Hutchinson sorted through fact and fiction, telling Balto’s true story within its context while students offered their own thoughts and opinions. The presentation touched on historical, scientific, technological, and economic issues and even drew comparisons between Nome’s diphtheria outbreak and the recent global pandemic. In all, the presentation proved both interdisciplinary and engaging, with students actively discussing the events that occurred nearly a century ago.


Though Synergy is no stranger to virtual field trips such as these, this was the first time the program had worked alongside the Cleveland Museum.


“We try and have at least one virtual field trip each year,” explained Andrea Smith, the program’s 7-12 principal. “Students and families are invited to attend. This presentation was really well-received; Many of our students were shocked to learn the entire truth of what happened.”


Synergy Virtual High School is a fully virtual environment available through CiTi BOCES for students in grades seven through twelve. Middle and high school classes and college courses are instructed virtually via interactive videoconferencing and online instruction. Upon graduation, participating students earn a NY State High School diploma and have the ability to gain an associate degree from Cayuga Community College.