Sunday, April 22, 2018

Home, sweet home

It was a whirlwind of a week and more than one student commented on how quickly it went by! It was a learning experience on many levels and despite occasional moments of homesickness and sore feet, the kids embodied the qualities of all great travelers: curious, eager, cooperative, and flexible. It was a great pleasure travelling with them but, like all good trips, it is with mixed emotions that our journey has come to an end: sad that it’s over but happy that we went. I’m sure all are excited to be back to the comforts of home and with the freedom to walk wherever they want without being told, "Move to the right. KEEP UP!!"

The chaperones would like to thank everyone who helped make this trip possible. A huge thank you to our school administrators for their continued support and to the teachers who held down the fort in our absence! Thank you to Mrs. Fero for all her fundraising efforts that help make this trip more affordable and to Mr. Stutzman, the organizational guru and mastermind behind the whole thing. We’d also to thank the families for your trust and enthusiasm that allows us to continue offering this amazing, educational opportunity each year. And, of course, this trip wouldn’t be possible without the kids. It is our hope that this trip sparked something within them and that they continue to seek out opportunities to travel and expand their horizons!  

Plane ride home

The final leg of the journey

A tribute to the past, hope for the future

9/11 Memorial Plaza
Our last stop in New York was a somber one. We walked to the base of 1 World Trade Center to see the 9/11 Memorial and twin reflecting pools. Built in the footprints of the Twin Towers, students were struck by the magnitude and size of the pools. Seeing the names of the victims engraved in bronze around the edge gave humanity to the statistics and was a humbling reminder of all that was lost on that fateful day.

The Survivor Tree in bloom
A charred but still living pear tree that was found among the wreckage of the 9/11 attacks. It was nurtured back to health and stands today as a living symbol of resilience in the face of adversity. 
One of two reflection pools, the largest manmade waterfalls in the United States.

Lady Liberty and Ellis Island

Group photo at the base of Lady Liberty.
After our visit to the American Indian Museum, we channelled our inner-New Yorkers and elbowed our way through security to board the ferry bound for Liberty Island. We then ascended 167 steps to reach the top of Lady Liberty’s pedestal for an amazing view of the New York skyline. We then reboarded the ferry to hop over to Ellis Island to see the building where over half of all Americans’ ancestors passed through. We checked out the baggage room and then climbed the stairs to the second floor to see the Great Hall. It was here that newly arrived immigrants would register and hope to be granted entry into the United States to start a new life in the land of opportunity and to claim their piece of the American dream.

Ferry ride to Liberty Island with the NYC skyline in the distance.

Cruising New York Harbor with views of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey. The ferry leaves from Battery Point in NY with stops at Liberty and Ellis Islands.

The Statue of Liberty, a gift from France, is a symbol of freedom and has been welcoming millions from around the world since 1886. 
The original 1886 torch, on display inside the visitors center.

Ellis Island, an immigration processing station from 1882-1954. The gateway to America, over 12 million immigrants entered the United States through these doors. 

Outside the main building on Ellis Island.

The Great Hall, the first stop of many for the newly arrived immigrants.

The baggage room, the place where immigrants were required to leave all of their belongings while they passed through the medical examination and questioning. Unguarded, it was not a guarantee that their bags would be there when they returned.

Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of the American Indian is part of the Smithsonian Institution. It is located in the beautiful and historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Customs House.
Cultural artifacts on display at the National Museum of the American Indian.

The museum also features contemporary artwork by Native American artists.

Artwork by Marianne Nicolson as part of the exhibit Transformer: Native Art in Light and Sound.

Federal Hall and Wall Street

Charging Bull
Just like Fearless Girl, the Whippets weren't afraid to take on Wall Street. Stops in New York's financial district included Federal Hall, the New York Stock Exchange, and Charging Bull. By far, though, the highlight was the Golden Firefighter street performer. Give him a dollar and he comes alive, very fitting for Wall Street.

Federal Hall, birthplace of American democracy. It is the location of our nation's first Congress and where the Bill of Rights was passed. George Washington's inauguration speech was given on these steps.

Inside Federal Hall, the interior dome is modeled after the Roman Pantheon.
Vaults inside Federal Hall, which later served as a Customs House for the bustling New York Port. 

Charging Bull, the iconic sculpture located in the heart of New York's financial district.

Fearless Girls and Guys take on Charging Bull.

11 Wall Street is the location of the New York Stock Exchange Building, home of the world's largest stock exchange.

Hanging out on Wall Street
Golden Firefighter street performer

For a small donation, he will come alive and pose for a photo-op.

Trinity Church

We had a jammed packed agenda of sightseeing and touring for our last day in NYC. First we headed to Trinity Church, located just a few minutes away from our hotel on Wall Street. Fans of the musical Hamilton enjoyed visiting the burial sites of Alexander, Eliza, Phillip, Angelica, and Hercules Mulligan.

The entrance of Trinity Church, which was built in 1766 and has burned down and been rebuilt twice.

Gravestone of Alexander Hamilton, Founding Father and George Washington's right hand man.

The interior of the church. George Washington prayed here after his inauguration and is still an active Episcopal parish today. 

The tombstone of Eliza Schuyler-Hamilton, devoted wife of Alexander Hamilton. Who lives, who dies, who tells your story? She did.

Hercules Mulligan, a tailor and spy during the Revolutionary War. He ran with the Sons of Liberty and was lovin' it. He was also a member of Trinity Church. 
The burial site of Angelica Schuyler-Church, devoted sister to Eliza and one of Alexander's closest confidantes.
When you needed her most she was right on time.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Mid-town sight seeing

A short walk from Times Square brought us to Rockefeller Plaza. The art deco building is the headquarters of NBC studios and many shows are filmed here, including the Today Show, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and Saturday Night Live.

Over 200 flags from around the world encircle the lower plaza. These are removed during the holidays and replaced by the iconic Rockefeller Christmas tree and ice skating rink.

The entrance of the building which was originally named the RCA Building when it was built in 1933, now called the Comcast Building. It is most often referred to by its address,  30 Rockefeller Plaza or just 30 Rock.

The entrance to 30 Rock

The lobby of the Empire State Building was as pretty as a Christmas card. Son of a nutcracker, you should have heard all the Elf quotes this visit inspired!