As I write this, it is National Poetry Month, members of our community are honoring the month of Ramadan, others are preparing for Easter or Passover, and the cherry blossoms are in full bloom all around us. We are preparing for a myriad of events in the Middle School in arts, sports, and academics. Spring is indeed in the air.
Typically, all over the country, at this time of year, class trips head out. I remember my middle school class trips with so much fondness. For the past two years, those signature pieces of our program have been on a hiatus; however, with cautious optimism, we planned. In the fall, we were able to take all of our middle schoolers out on one day trips to local outdoor education centers: Duke Farms with the sixth grade, Jockey Hollow with the seventh grade and Grounds for Sculpture with the eighth grade. I hoped that we would be able to return to our overnight trips, and with that hope, we planned.
Travel allows us to see the world from a new lens, a new perspective. It offers us a window into a different community and gives us the opportunity to learn and grow. It reminds me of the quote by author Mary Anne Radmacher: “I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” Travel is an open door to so many new experiences. Many of our students have not spent the night away from home, and most have not had the chance to engage in a school sponsored overnight trip. When I interviewed for this position, the school trips were a part of the school experience that the student panel spoke about the most. Although we are not going to the other side of the world, we are leaving our own backyards.
I am so excited, and still cautiously optimistic that next week, all of our Middle School students will head out to explore, question, engage their curiosity, and learn. Our sixth graders will explore environmental education, learn more about cooperation, and have the chance to challenge themselves. Frost Valley designs programs that, “develop confident, socially responsible, actively engaged life-long learners.” Our seventh grade will be in Philadelphia, PA. This change from prior trips to Williamsburg, gives our seventh graders more time to explore history while adding in experiences in art, science, and civics. Finally, the eighth grade will return to Washington, D.C. and spend their time in the seat of our government with a tour that allows them to dive deeply into learning more about who we are as a nation.
These trips offer students time to engage in a collective experience that they can reflect upon, a time to recall fondly when they think about their middle school years. I look forward to hearing their stories, sharing in their joy, and curating experiences that they will remember. Maybe these trips will spark an interest in learning more about the places they’ve been or a curiosity to travel to places unknown.
As it is National Poetry Month, it seems fitting to close with a poem.
Travel by Edna St. Vincent Millay:
The railroad track is miles away,
And the day is loud with voices speaking,
Yet there isn't a train goes by all day
But I hear its whistle shrieking.
All night there isn't a train goes by,
Though the night is still for sleep and dreaming,
But I see its cinders red on the sky,
And hear its engine steaming.
My heart is warm with the friends I make,
And better friends I'll not be knowing;
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,
No matter where it's going.