“The road is better than the inn” -- Don Quixote
The classroom is a wonderful place to learn, but the opportunity to venture out of the predictable space where routines have been established can energize learning in some special ways. Academic Travel Week gives students an opportunity to “take their learning on the road” and privilege the direct experience, the hands-on experience, rather than the mitigated experience of the textbook. In the process of shared experience — traveling and living together as a class —some special bonding happens that strengthens class morale and unity. Students are asked to do certain interdisciplinary assignments related to the subjects they are studying. Often it would be a reflection in a journal or a creative assignment. During the inaugural year 2015-2016, students gave the ATW trips rave reviews. You can read student blog entries here.
While most trips set specific academic goals around a particular place of natural, historical, or cultural importance, the juniors do something completely different. Students in their 11th grade year choose as a class “to do a hard thing.” This is something that presents an individual and team challenge that will inspire others. Then they used that inspirational challenge to raise money to support a charity and make a difference in the lives of others.
This past year the juniors chose to “Walk the Cape”; they walked the 70 miles of Cape Cod, MA, from the Sandwich Canal to Provincetown. Many of them were able to ask people to support them for $1 per mile and raised $70 from each sponsor. In all they raised more than $4,000 to support their chosen charity, Habitat for Humanity. They will take a weekend and go work with Habitat to build a home next September. In the end, the juniors took on and mastered a personal challenge, showed great teamwork and had a special bonding experience, a proved that their are creative ways to “do good in the world” — raise awareness and money to help those in need. This is one way that CCA attempts to live out its mission “of leadership and service in today’s global community.”
Though these trips may change from year to year, this is a brief list of the destinations of each trip in 2015-2016.
Students tour the great Civil War battlefield and understand their recent history lessons in a new light. Students also see the Amish culture and see a biblically themed dramatic production. Finally students learn about immigration to the United States first-hand as they visit the Tenement Museum and Ellis Island.
Students visit the great government buildings and memorials of our nation’s capital. They tour the Capitol, the Smithsonian (Air and Space Museum), the Holocaust Museum, the Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, and Martin Luther King memorials, and many other sites.
Students visit a famous wetlands and island protected area off of Virginia. They work with a local science research field station to do a variety of observations and labs both at sea and on land. They also have some memorable (fun) adventures like the mud field challenge.
Students learn about the Native American and French colonial history of North America’s most European city. There are many opportunities to discuss art and architecture as well as the strategic importance of the St. Lawrence river. Culinary delights also figure highly in the students’ experiences.
The Junior Class chooses a “hard thing” that will challenge them physically and mentally. They will need to be strong individually and also support one another as a team. This year they decided to walk the 70 miles of Cape Cod. They raised money from sponsors who were impressed with the way they were challenging themselves and were able to support a local charity with the money they raised. Next year the juniors will choose a different challenge and support a different charity.
The Senior Class embarked on an ethnic and cultural tour of cosmopolitan New York City. They visited Jewish, Chinese, African American, and Italian neighborhoods. They also visited the great historical and cultural treasures of NYC by visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the 9-11 Museum, a Broadway show (Les Miserables), and the Tenement Museum. They walked the Brooklyn Bridge and circled Manhattan Island by boat.