Imagine the hustle and bustle of a New York City crowd, being on live TV, and re-enacting Civil War military strategies. Those are just a few examples of what 44 Creston High School juniors and seniors had the opportunity to experience on a school trip to Washington, D.C., Gettysburg, Pa., and New York City, N.Y.
“It’s not for any one specific class,” said Todd Jacobson, CHS social studies teacher. “It’s just for any of the Creston juniors and seniors that have the ability to pay for the trip and then sign up for it.”
Trips are scheduled every other year, around the band trip to Florida and Spanish trip to Costa Rica. This was Jacobson’s sixth trip.
The students, accompanied by 10 adults, traveled March 15-19. Jacobson, Paula Jacobson, Creston Early Childhood Center kindergarten teacher, and Lesa Downing, instructional coach, were school chaperones.
Days one and two
“We started at Congress at the U.S. Capitol on the first day, after we flew in,” Jacobson said.
The group saw different monuments that evening, as well, such as the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Korean War Veterans Memorial.
“When you’re reading out of a textbook, it’s not interesting,” said CHS student Maxx Walters, 17. “But, when you’re there, where those people have been, that makes it interesting.”
On day two, the group visited Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, where Jessica O’Riley, Jana Johnson, Garrett Abell and Levi Eblen placed a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
“I didn’t realize how emotional it would be,” said O’Riley, 18. “I was pretty strong at the beginning, and then, just going into it, it was such a beautiful ceremony, and it really brought out a bunch of emotions. And I think everybody really felt the emotions.”
That afternoon, they visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which had a self-guided tour.
“It’s incredible to see inside just because of all the relics that they have from that event,” Jacobson said.
That night, they saw the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.
“It was so cute, I want to live there,” said CHS student Michelle Powers, 16. “It was so cute. Everything was so nice and so clean.”
“We got up and went to Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania,” Jacobson said about the third day of the trip.
While in Gettysburg, the students partook in an interactive tour. They had a tour guide explaining different things as they went through the battlefield. At one stop, the students re-enacted a flank used during battle.
“At the end, they got to jump over the fence and charge at us,” said Jacobson, “just like the Confederates did in Pickett’s Charge.”
The group then went to New York City.
“That is the carrot at the end of the trip that a lot of the kids are looking forward to, because those two cities are not alike,” said Jacobson.
The group first went to Chinatown, where they were required to barter for goods, then went on to Little Italy for dinner. That night they went to Rockefeller Center and were able to see the Empire State Building, which was green for St. Patrick’s Day.
“It was so much bigger than Creston,” said O’Riley. “I didn’t know what to expect going into it. ... It’s a lot different seeing it on television and movies compared to being there.”
Days four and five
March 18, the group got on the subway and went downtown, where they stood outside and were filmed on “The Today Sho.”
The students were able to walk through Central Park and see Strawberry Fields, a memorial to Beatles member John Lennon. They went shopping on Fifth Avenue, and were given money to buy food from a street vendor. Then, they spent time in Times Square.
“That night, we all get dressed up, go down, eat at Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square and go to ‘Phantom of the Opera,’” Jacobson said.
On the fifth day, the group visited the Financial District and Wall Street, and then took a ferry around Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty were empty because after Hurricane Sandy, the docks were destroyed. The ferry also went under the Brooklyn Bridge.
The group then visited St. Paul’s Chapel, across from the World Trade Center attacks in 2001.
“That’s one of my favorite spots,” said Jacobson, “because it’s a real tiny, little church. And it was unscathed when those buildings went down, other than a few windows. ... This little chapel stood, and it became a hub for the recovery effort. And, while we’re sitting there, a college choir from Michigan stands up and starts singing. ... (It’s) little things like that, that are not on the itinerary, that just happen.”
The group ended the trip at the new Sept. 11 memorial.
“I couldn’t believe how amazing everything was there,” said CHS student Brandon Phipps, 17.
Sidebar: St. Paul’s Chapel
St. Paul’s Chapel, located on Broadway Street in Manhattan, N.Y., across the street from the World Trade Center, was unharmed during the attack on the two towers on Sept. 11, 2001.
The chapel was turned into a place of refuge and recovery for eight months after the attack. Volunteers worked to feed, counsel and pray with firefighters, police officers and others during recovery.
The chapel is now a tourist spot since it keeps banners and memorials from the attack on Sept. 11.