America Trip 2015 by Sasha Lloyd (Year 12)
Over Half Term, pupils from Years 9 to 13 were lucky enough to go to Washington D.C, Gettysburg and New York as part of a school trip to expand our knowledge of history, politics and economics.
Leaving school at 3.00am to make our way to Heathrow, meant our first day included a lot of travelling; 7 hours and 4 movies later we arrived in Washington D.C buzzing with excitement. Our first evening was spent in the hotel resting for our busy week ahead.
For day 2, we went to the Supreme Court and US Capitol Building and after security checks, we were able to look around the House Galleries. Later, we were able to sit in a talk, where we were informed that all furniture in the Senate came from places all around the world, so no one state had more control or influence than the other member states. Next we were able to sit in the viewing gallery of a Senators’ discussion on Cyber Security. After this, we were free to follow our own itinerary, with the suggestion that we should visit some of the fantastic museums Washington has to offer. Our day was finished off with an evening meal at the Hard Rock Café and a chance to see the Washington Memorial at night.
For our last day in Washington, we were blessed with more glorious weather. In the morning, we all went to the White House Visitor Centre, where we read about life inside the White House and how different people who have lived there have made an impact and changed it to the place it is today. For the afternoon, 10 A Level Politics and History students were invited to meet the Kentucky Congressman, Mr Ed Whitfield. It was particularly interesting to find out why he had swapped Parties half way through his political career and to discover his opinion on women in Congress and in the traditionally male playing field of Politics. The other group were able to walk down the lake which separated the Lincoln Memorial from the Washington Memorial. That evening, we were free to choose where we wanted to eat in our small groups.
The following day, we travelled to New York via Gettysburg. When we arrived in Gettysburg, we had a guided tour of the city, which showed us the current city and statues where famous battles had taken place. It was particularly interesting to discover why the Battle at Gettysburg was the turning point in the Civil War for the Union. After arriving in New York and settling into our accommodation, our evening meal was at the famous Bubba Gump in Times Square.
Our first day in New York was unforgettable! We went to the Statue of Liberty and were able to walk around the base, taking many photographs! The ferry then took us to Ellis Island, where we were able to see where immigrants would have been taken in the past before being allowed into America. Personally I found the museum at Ellis Island eye-opening and it really touched raw emotions. That evening, we went up the Empire State Building to watch the sunset and see the city’s lights switching on. Our experiences and views on that day will never be forgotten.
The 6th day was more slowly paced, with a visit to MOMA in the morning, to see the modern art and paintings. We were free to follow our own itinerary for the rest of the day, which for most of us meant shopping along 5th Avenue! In the evening, we watched the spectacular show, Matilda the Musical.
The next morning, we were able to explore and go Ice Skating in Central Park, which was right next to our accommodation. In the afternoon, the older years were able to visit the Federal Bank, where a quarter of the world’s gold is kept. The older years then met back up with the younger groups in order to see the 9/11 Memorial and Wall Street. For the rest of the day, we were free to follow our own itinerary and many of us chose to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge back into Manhattan. That evening, we had our meal at the Stardust Café, where constant singing and entertainment generated a lively atmosphere.
Our final morning in New York was spent in the United Nations Headquarters, where we were given a full tour. It was fascinating to see the different gifts that countries had given to the UN and to be informed that we could say that we had been in 193 States at once. This is because the UN Headquarters in New York is partly owned by each member state of the UN. For lunch, we went to Grand Central Station and were able to pick our own lunch from the many different stands in the Food Hall. We then loaded ourselves back on to the coach to travel to JFK Airport for our late night flight, returning in the early hours of the following morning.
The trip was utterly unforgettable with some once-in-a lifetime opportunities! It is hard to say which part stands out the most, however, I personally will never forget the reflection of the Lincoln Memorial on the lake at dusk and the view from the Empire State Building at sunset. The trip has certainly developed our knowledge and understanding of History, Politics and Economics and would not have been possible without the support and organisation of the Staff. On behalf of all 48 students who went on the USA Trip, I would like to thank Mrs Huntley, Mrs Hemphill, Miss Van Ravenstein, Miss Haw and Miss Farris for all the work they put into organising it in order to create such a cherished trip.