5/24/2018 - Day four of Academic Travel Week brought some unique sightings including a camel in Amish Country, agressive seagulls on the Jersey Shore, and President Trump boarding Marine 1! Read on for all the details...
by Mrs. Hawkins Knell, faculty chaperone
The morning began with a guided tour of Amish country. Our guide was Mennonite, so he knew a lot about Amish beliefs and customs. We got to see some beautiful puppies and handmade quilts (some cost over $1000!). We also saw a camel on one of the farms!?!
After Amish country, we saw the production of “Jesus” at Sight and Sound theater. There was a slight mishap with the moving ship, but the kids were awesome and patient while we waited for it to be fixed. The show used cool staging - somehow, they orchestrated a slow-motion scene where Jesus overturns the temple. It was fun to see all the stories from the gospels on stage!
After the show, we had lunch and played in the park before heading out to New Jersey. Once we got to NJ, we had dinner at Broadway Diner, and then we went on to our hotel. No pool for the kids tonight - they went right to sleep!! (Hence the blog post by their teacher...!)
by Nelle Higgins '22
As children, we all dream that we want to be the President of the United States. So you can imagine how awesome it was to hear that we could get a tour in the White House! But, on top of that, while we were at the White House, we saw the President! We walked into the White House to be greeted by the sound of helicopter propellers. The helicopter had landed in the grass in front of the White House. We knew the president was getting inside so we waited at the window for about 15 minutes and then we saw him walk out to his helicopter. Once that was over, we got a quick tour of the White House which was absolutely beautiful and elegant. I’m so blessed that I got to go into the white house with my friends.
by Grace Maina '22
Today we visited the Museum of the Bible in DC. I had never been there before and didn't really know what to expect. When we walked in, the first thing i saw was the ceiling. The ceiling was a big screen and had biblical art moving all across it. I expected to know everything and not learn anything new, but when I looked around, I had no idea what most of the stuff was. We started from the top level and watched some movies and went into an area that was made to look like Nazareth. I was starting to get a bit bored because it was things I had already known about, but then some students in my class advised me to go into the room called “Hebrew Old Testament Bible.” It began as a movie about the creation of the world and the fall of man but then suddenly the wall began to move backwards and another room appeared. This repeated to happen about 4 more times as we moved from story to story. Each room had its own strong meaning and the museum did a great job bringing it to life. At the end of the day, I ended up loving that room and the museum.
by Hannah Yen '22
After we visited the Bible Museum, we went to Buca di Beppo. Everyone was looking forward to a sit-down dinner and a bonding time. We sat down and awaited our food with great excitement. When the food came, it came in huge amounts and was so good that everyone ended up eating too much. The dinner was wonderful. Right after we got out of the restaurant, we went on our way to the Tidal Basin. On our way there, we saw the President’s helicopter and its escort on its way back to the White House. It was so cool. We were next to a large field, so some of our classmates ran up and down the field, trying to get the President to notice them. After the helicopter went by, we started on the trail around the Tidal Basin (which is a small lake, if you didn’t know). The basin/lake was bigger and even more beautiful than I expected it to be. It was getting dark, but we could see the Jefferson Memorial in the distance. It was beautiful and our class saw an opportunity to get lots of photos. We had to keep moving, so we went on our way to the MLK Jr. Memorial. The monument of MLK was big and amazing. After this walk, everyone was dead tired so we went back to the hotel. Overall, the dinner and walk were both opportunities to create memories, and I loved both of them.
by Nathan Sirois '21
Our last day at the research station today was awesome. We started it with an interesting walk through a maritime forest where we saw all types of decomposers such as bacteria, fungus, and invertebrates. We saw tons of frogs as well. Then we learned the different layers of a tree - like the heart wood…dead but strong! We finished our time in the forest by taking some time for silence to listen to the variety of birds. That was the end of our time at the research station. We then took a four-hour drive to New Jersey where, after checking into the hotel, we went on the boardwalk in Ocean City. There we partook in many activities’ such as, mini golf, window shopping, and a hunt for the best food on the boardwalk. After many well-thought-out purchases we all made our way back to the hotel and went to the roof pool that the hotel manager left open just for us! At the pool, the 9th grade class took turns trying to impress one another through increasingly impressive and painful jumps into the pool. That wrapped up the last full day of the 9th grade academic travel week.
by Ethan Roth '21
Today was a blast. This morning, we took a nice nature stroll though a maritime forest led by our amazing guides, Ben and Kent. Admittedly, we were all a bit tired because we had to wake up early to load the vans for the long ride to New Jersey. While we were hiking through the forest, our guide made us stop and do something called “head in the bushes, feet in the trees.” This just means that we laid at the base of a tree with out feet upwards against the tree to get a new perspective on nature. We also got to see a really cool lighthouse. After the forest, we took our long ride to New Jersey…almost everyone fell asleep. We then went to the boardwalk in Ocean City. That was a total blast. The sunset was beautiful and the food was great. When it was time for the pool at the hotel we all went up to the roof (!) where it was located. We all took turns jumping into the pool. Zeke did a backflip and Jordan got his chest destroyed by a nasty belly flop. Overall, this was a great day.
by Sydney DiGiulio '21
DON’T FEED THE GULLS. Food on a boardwalk is great. However, you must learn to ignore the gulls. They might sound like they are laughing at you constantly but just keep walking. If you have food, DO NOT FEED THEM unless you want to be chased, pooped on, and screamed at by more than 20 gulls. I learned my lesson today because someone in the group I was with on the boardwalk thought that giving food to the birds would make them go away. Well, they were wrong, and we ended up running for our lives as we tried to enjoy dinner on the beach.
by Brianna Benkley '20
8 am Wednesday morning the sophomore class was “up and at ‘em”, excited to enjoy breakfast at Le Vinis crepery. Some students ordered sweet crepes, filled with whip cream, fresh fruit or maple syrup, while others chose more savory dishes. After a delightful meal, we went shopping on the street where the famous church of Notre Dame resides. Whether it was a sweatshirt, Daniel Boon hat or authentic order of Canadian maple pecan popcorn, everyone was able to find a souvenir. Later that morning, the students visited the famous Catholic Church of Notre Dame. The ceiling of the cathedral was adorned with murals of the gospel and gold accents. Around the walls of the sanctuary, the stained glass windows depicted the gospel of Jesus Christ. After a lunch break, we then visited the Anglican Church of Quebec, which also had beautiful architecture. In fact, some of the students attended the Anglican Church evensong in the evening. By the early evening, we were challenged to consider the distinction between modern and pastime culture at the Museum of Civilization. After learning from the exhibits, we returned to the hotel to prepare for a lovely dinner at Le Ciel. Students enjoyed each other’s company while enjoying exquisite food- the view wasn’t too shabby either (it is an all glass restaurant at the top of the hotel that slowly rotates, allowing views of the entire city at night)! We concluded the evening with chocolate mouse and laughter. What a wonderful day!
by Anna DeCotis '20
During our second warm day in the beautiful province of Quebec, the Sophmore class went to the Wendake Huron Reservation outside of Quebec City. There, our tour guide led us through the reservation and explained what the Native Americans of Canada did in their daily lives. We first entered the building where several native families would sleep: the long house. In this 100 ft long house, 3-4 families at a time would sleep before French and British settlers arrived in Canada. Our tour guide explained the leadership structure of Native American tribes during their time. Being a matriarchy, he stressed the fact that women were held in great esteem and regard. He explained that clans would elect clan mothers- women who held the most leadership among all the people of the clan. Then the several clan mothers would meet and elect a elect a tribe leader who was a man. Our tour guide’s explanation of this leadership ranking was very interesting because it is very unusual to hear of a cultural and leadership structure of a matriarchy. After we left the long house, we arrived next to the sweat lodge where leaders would receive visions to make important decisions and then to a hut where our guide explained how the medicine man would heal people based off their dreams. After finishing our tour by entering a teepee that was actually used for nomadic western Native Americans and not the rooted Canadanian natives, we finished our time at the reservation by playing a fun game. In this game, one person sits on the ground blindfolded, trying to guard their three sticks representing the harvest crops. One by one, three people will try to steal one of the sticks without being touched by the person sitting. Caio Mauro had a very smart strategy: he snuck up on one side of the person sitting then threw his chapstick to the other side to create noise and distract him. Overall, this game was very challenging for both the blindfolded and the theives but we all had an incredible time. All in all, our time on the Wendake Huron Reservation during our second day of Quebec was educational, enjoyable, and a refreshing take on the Native Americans of Canada.
by Nathaniel Pekari '20
On Wednesday, Mr Wegrzyn and a few students went to an evensong at an Anglican Church we had visited earlier in the day. The evensong was a short service of prayer and music. The music was provided by a choir and old-fashioned pipe organ, which were amplified by the domed ceiling. We were able to experience beautiful music in a beautiful setting, and enjoyed the chance to take a break and spend time in worship.
by Caio Mauro '20
Enjoying a nice meal is great; enjoying an excellent meal 26 floors up on a rotating platform is amazing. On Wednesday we went to Lê Ciel, a revolving restaurant at Hotel Le Concorde. When we arrived to the hotel we entered into a glass elevator that took us up about 26 floors. We sat down at our tables and took in the view of the city of Quebec. We were all pointing out where we had been and where we were going. During dinner we had some choices for a 4 course meal. We all shared laughs and funny stories and got to know one another better.
by Shutong Wang '20
We went to the turning restaurant last night. It’s an amazing restaurant; I never have been before. I was surprised that we could totally see everywhere of Quebec. The landscapes were beautiful and attractive, and when the sun set the lights were super shining. Everyone was dressed formally; boys were wearing ties and girls wore dresses. The meal was fantastic, and they were the best dishes I ate in Quebec City. The appetizer was fried salmon cake which was tasty for me. The dessert was chocolate mousse in a chocolate shell and tea. You would love it if you tried once. If I had a chance, I would come back again!
by Emily Saulnier '20
On Wednesday night, our group went to a fancy restaurant in Quebec City called Le Ciel. This beautiful restaurant has a rotating platform that circles the perimeter of the interior, which allowed us to circle around and view the gorgeous city. There were windows wrapping the whole restaurant and we were able to view the city in its full glory, recognizing every place we had traveled over the course of the past few days. It was located on the top floor of a hotel. It was almost cinematic how dazzling the sunset was when it drifted into the night. We had an exquisite four course dinner that was beyond perfection. We laughed and dined together and this was definitely a culinary highlight of the trip.
by Emily Coelho '20
Bonjour tout le monde, (hello everyone). This trip has been exceptionally rewarding and a blessing. If you don’t know I have wanderlust and i love traveling more than anything and I can speak some french myself! I call myself a french enthusiast. Walking around the streets of Quebec and in every corner you will hear someone speaking French and it definitely gives you European vibes. This was the perfect trip as my first time leaving the USA. It has always been my dream to go to France and so this has given me a “sneak peak” of what life is like in a foreign country and also a nice change of language. Yesterday’s fancy dinner was on a rotating restaurant called “le ciel.” It was a four course meal (which is not at all common in the USA) which contained many portions of food. I ordered barley risotto for the first time around and then a very rich butternut squash soup then up next came the salmon and then lastly a very delicious chocolate mousse which was worth all the calories. One Interesting fact that I was told was that the restaurant takes one hour and a half to fully go around which I think is very impressive. We stayed their cutting close to four hours and it was a nice ending to a great trip that I will always keep close.
by Jacob SIms '19
Wednesday was a wonderful day for me and my classmates. Shane Perry, the leader of Rebuild South Texas, took most of us to help build a new home for a local family, and a handful of us stayed to finish the greenhouse that we had been working on all week. Although I missed those who were gone, we were able to be much more efficient because we were in smaller groups, which was exciting. We worked hard all morning, as we watched storm clouds slowly start to surround us. At one point I remember Mr. Church saying that it looked like we were in the eye of a hurricane, of course as we helped to rebuild after a hurricane. As it began to rain, it was incredibly satisfying to drill in the screw to the last rafter on the greenhouse that we had put so much work into. We still had a couple small projects to finish up, and the tarp was not up yet, but the main body of the work was finally finished.
After lunch, my classmates and I cleaned up our houses, and most of us took a well deserved break for some spicy uno as it continued to pour down, while a couple students continued to work indoors with Mrs. Church and another volunteer. Once it stopped raining, a few of us went out to the greenhouse to put some finishing touches on it, although we didn't have time to put up the tarp.
On Sunday morning, Shane Perry said something that has resonated with me all week. He said that when he came down to Houston as a volunteer first responder, he learned that when we give ourselves in service to the Lord, we ought to give every ounce of effort to that task. Whether we are pulling people out of floodwaters or putting up new rafters on a greenhouse, the Lord asks us to work until we can not work anymore. I tried to keep this in mind as I worked this week, and I will try to implement it into my life going forward.
As hurricane season approaches once again, I can't imagine what these people must be thinking. Although the media and most of the country has moved on, this great city is nowhere near healed. There are still people here in Rosharon who don't have homes, as well as many of the other communities in Houston. After my classmates left for the airport today (Thursday) I began a trip to Austin to see family, and I saw a debris field where they were still collecting broken concrete and other debris from the hurricane in order to grind it down. My prayer is that as we go about our lives, we will not forget the people who will be recovering here for years, not just in Rosharon but in all of Southeast Texas.
by Andrew MacBeath '18
After one last trip to Old John’s to order our breakfasts, we took a quick walk to Columbus Circle, where we rented our bikes for a scavenger hunt across Central Park. We were split into two teams, each of which had a list of landmarks to find, such as Belvedere Castle, Turtle Pond, and statues of various historical figures. Our teams geared up, marked our maps, and set off into the park. After a wonderful ride on the paths, Team 1 took the overwhelming victory. After this, we swing by Chipotle for lunch and hit Central Park once more, this time without our bikes. We explored the park, climbed trees, and petted every dog in sight en route to the MET. Once there, our groups split and covered as much ground as possible. As a class, we explored Ancient Greece, the Italian Renaissance, Pre-Modern China, and elaborate dresses from the MET Gala only a few weeks before.
Next up was the Mets game, but we still had to stop for dinner. Luckily, Josh knew the perfect place: a market in Chinatown close by. Through Josh and Kevin’s guidance, we got a taste of Chinese culture by tasting its food. Our dinner was four giant bowls of meat and veggies with tofu, sesame seeds, and some chili peppers for those who were willing to handle the spice. Top it all off with bubble tea and it was a cultural experience.
We took our seats in Citi Field, not afraid to represent the home team: the Red Sox. It’s ok, it wasn’t the Yankees, so there was not much hostility towards our rebellious group. After five scoreless innings full of mind games, the Mets struck first with a solo home run, but the Marlins took the win by scoring two in the ninth inning, and the Mets were unable to respond. We followed the stunned fans outside the park, stumbled onto the train and collapsed at the hotel after a long final full day.