Tag Archives: school trips

A Band Trip to Los Angeles for Disney Performing Arts Onstage

by Howard Clemens

Band directors and high school musicians and performers will find Disneyland, California an ideal destination to showcase their talents.  Groups can have a public performance on one of Disney’s stages or participate in a parade. Disneyland California also has Youth Programs where students experience backstage life with real Disney performers.  Including this type of workshop on the trip to Disneyland encourages students to hone their artistic skills and talents. Disney Performing Arts Onstage gives student marching bands, orchestras, ensembles, choirs and more a forum for their work.

Learn more about how a marching band trip to Disneyland would be structured to include performances, active learning and touring different theme parks. This sample itinerary includes three days in Disneyland, a trip to see a Major League Baseball game and dinner at the Hard Rock Café.

Disney Performing Arts Onstage

Organizing a student trip around a performance provides a wonderful opportunity for multifaceted learning.  Student performance groups will rehearse for the big day for months preceding the performance, encouraging them to develop discipline and use teamwork to succeed onstage.

There are several options for marching band trips when it comes to performance venues in Disneyland. Marching bands can perform in a parade, on a Disney stage or to an international audience. Disney actually provides programs for instrumental, vocal and dance groups – not just marching bands. The venue selected by the trip leader will reflect the needs of the group.

This band trip is a unique experience for the student musician. In addition to the performance on a Disney stage or marching band route, trip leaders may also opt to select a backstage workshop taught by an actual Disney performer for the group.

Disney’s California Adventure

Located in the heart of Anaheim, California, this Disney theme park presents classic Disney characters and new stars coming alive in a multimedia and interactive setting.  Exhibits include the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Hollywood Pictures Backlot, The Little Mermaid and more.   In 2012, Disney’s California Adventure will add characters from the Pixar movie Cars.  Tow Mater, Lightning McQueen and others from the film are part of Cars Land — and so is the Radiator Springs racer ride.  This interactive Disney park is sure to amaze and delight students.

Major League Baseball Game:  Los Angeles Dodgers or Anaheim Angles

Many students have never seen a Major League Baseball game, but would love the opportunity to do so. A trip to California may be the perfect time to  take a group of student musicians out to the ball game. Trip leaders can reserve tickets to either L.A. Dodgers or Anaheim Angels games.  Students can sit back, relax, have a hot dog and watch the professional baseball game with their friends.

Hard Rock Café

Many student groups enjoy visiting the Hard Rock Café while on tour in just about any large city in the U.S.  An evening dinner at the Hard Rock Café on Hollywood Boulevard just might trump a visit to other locations.  Here students can see Jimi Hendrix’s purple, crushed velvet hat, Jim Morrison’s leather pants and more.  Interactive, touch screen displays are in booths throughout the Hard Rock Café and allow the viewer to experience Rock-n-Roll history.

Students who participate in marching bands are used to travel.  Yet a trip to Disneyland for performance infuses the trip with an added dimension of fun.  Students can explore other parks besides Disney’s California Adventure while they visit. This sample itinerary allows three days for students to explore Disneyland, with time to shop, and dine at international cafes, too.

Request a Quote for a high school band trip to Disneyland California.  Or, email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com to speak directly to an educational travel specialist.

School Choir Teacher Takes Students on Trip to NYC and Washington D.C.

Performance tours are designed for student musicians and choirs to bring their music and song to new audiences.  These tours include visits to major student travel destinations such as Washington D.C., New York City or Orlando with fun, interesting and historical sites on the itinerary.  In addition to touring, there is a pre-booked performance date at a well-known location, such as the Statue of Liberty or Washington Cathedral.

I recently interviewed a teacher from Hawaii, Cora Palafox Aczon, who has traveled with her school choir for 13 years. Aczon began traveling since 1998 with her student choir to perform in different places like California, New York, Washington, D.C., and even in Vancouver.  Aczon says, “I started organizing these tours for choir purposes.  It is an opportunity to showcase the God-given talents of the students, and also to appreciate other parts of the world.”

Aczon has been a teacher for 16 years at Saint Anthony School (Honolulu), a private Catholic educational institution. As part of its religious mission, the school serves its own community in a variety of ways.  The choir sings at St. Anthony Parish on Sundays, First Fridays, Family Masses, and special days.  They also bring their music to the malls, community gatherings, and other places.  So it made perfect sense to me that the group leader would be interested in engaging students in community service while traveling in other cities.

There is always community work to be done, no matter where the student choir is traveling. Since service is part of the agenda for Aczon’s school trips, I take some time to research retirement communities, churches, and non-profit organizations in the area where her group is touring, to find organizations that serve the elderly, sick or disadvantaged populations. During the trip planning process, I run a few ideas past Cora Aczon to get a feel for what type of site works best for her group. The choir’s performance is always a welcome special event, no matter where they may be booked. Sometimes the choir’s performance location is determined by the travel dates and scheduled openings at host organizations.  If the group leader plans far enough in advance, he or she may have a choice of different locations

It is a long trip to the mainland United States from Hawaii.  The most recent trip Saint Anthony’s School Choir made was to New York City and Washington D.C. Aczon told me, “Some of the students and parents have never been to the mainland U.S.  Most of the students and parents have not gone to the East Coast yet.  They have read a great deal about these places in books, and have seen these places in movies.  The group wanted to have the feel and experience of being there, even just for a short time.” A performance tour is a wonderful way to explore the cities students study in history class. The performance allows students to take time to interact with the community, and get to know people there in a more intimate way.

On their visit to New York City, the Saint Anthony School Choir visited many popular destinations such as the United Nations, NBC Studios, the Empire State Building and Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. They also toured Manhattan, dined at Planet  Hollywood and saw the Broadway musical, “Mary Poppins.”  The choir was scheduled to sing at the Statue of Liberty, but the entire group was a bit disappointed when their outdoor performance was rained out. Nevertheless, their visit to NYC was a memorable one and there were many positive experiences on their journey.

The Saint Anthony School Choir’s visit to Washington D.C. and performance there went as planned.  In D.C., the choir visited Arlington National Cemetery, Smithsonian American and Natural History Museums, the Supreme Court, the U.S. Capitol, Mount Vernon, and the Holocaust Museum.  The group even attended mass, and sang at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Capitol Hill.  They also performed at the Air & Seaman’s Home – where they were very well received.  Aczon recalled, “The choir’s performance was emotionally moving.  Some of the residents said they were at Pearl Harbor on December 7th and seeing and hearing the kids from Hawaii brought back memories of World War II.”  When student performance groups make a connection to people at the place they perform, they begin to understand that singing and community service does have an impact.

Student tours should provide active learning opportunities.  There must always be time for recreation and fun as well. I feel that performance tours with community service on the itinerary also open up the possibility of getting to know something about contemporary life and the people who live in large urban areas.  With community service as a component to a performance tour, students are able to hear and see the results of their work.  People in the community also have the chance to learn more about the lifestyles of the places where students originate. This exchange enriches all involved.

For more information about booking a performance tour or band trip, visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com or email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com to request a quote.

An Eco Tour of Puerto Rico Designed for Student Travel Groups

The island of Puerto Rico is an excellent choice for student groups who want to travel to a destination with well-preserved ecological features. Since Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, students, teachers and chaperones can travel there without a passport.

Puerto Rico is rich in Colonial and native history.  It is also a spectacular destination for an eco tour.  El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. and well worth the visit.  The island is peppered with small fishing villages, offering unique hands on learning experiences for students studying marine science as well.

While student groups are touring Puerto Rico, they can also visit the historic cities of Ponce and Old San Juan, eat authentic Puerto Rican cuisine, take Salsa lessons, and learn about the local culture.
Following is an overview of some of the main sites student groups can visit while taking an eco tour of Puerto Rico.

La Parguera – A Fishing Village with Unique Learning Opportunities
Students will visit La Parguera, a small fishing village in Western Puerto Rico.  There the group will be able to feed Iguanas, identify birds, and even catch starfish.  A local fisherman will speak to the group about everyday life in his profession, and students will interact with marine life up close.  After enjoying a meal prepared by the locals, the group will embark on a bioluminescent night bay tour.   The bay tour is a supervised swim where students will see dinoflagelates (plankton) that glow in the dark and fish that light up underwater.

The Tropical Rainforest El Yunque
Protected by the Federal Forest Reserve for over one hundred years, El Yunque is truly a treasure, since it is a well- preserved rainforest. Like many rainforests, El Yunque has a complex eco system with a wide variety of flora and fauna, animals, insects, reptiles and birds.  Exotic scenery includes large cascading waterfalls, views of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea and a canopy of age-old trees.  Student tour groups will take a guided hike of El Yunque that includes swimming under the waterfalls.  Afterwards, students will have a lunch of Pinchos and spend time on Luquillo beach.

Ponce: Once Spain’s Capital City
Ponce is the second largest city in Puerto Rico and was named after Juan Ponce de Leon’s great-grandson, Loiza Ponce de Leon, who founded it in 1692.    Student travel groups may opt to take a walking or trolley tour of this historic city, where they will explore old and new farmers markets, and see neoclassical buildings and facades, colonial homes, cathedrals and fountains from the 17th Century. Groups will also visit El Parque de Bombas, a Spanish and Moorish inspired architectural treasure that served first as a main exhibit pavilion for the 1882 Exhibition Trade Fair and later as a fire station.

Old San Juan:  A Spanish Colonial City

Founded in 1521 and also known as ‘the walled city,” San Juan is the present day capital city of Puerto Rico.  It sits on one of the largest and most accessible harbors in the Caribbean.  Student groups will visit the old Spanish fort, explore the cobblestone streets of San Juan and view 16th and 17th Century Spanish colonial buildings.

Puerto Rico has a rich Spanish colonial heritage that has been well preserved.  El Yunque rainforest is one of the 28 finalists in the World’s Seven Wonders competition and is a spectacular opportunity for learning about the ecological importance of preserving rainforests – right in this hemisphere.

On tour, there are also numerous opportunities for students to immerse themselves in Puerto Rican culture, cuisine, and lifestyles. The experience of visiting Puerto Rico is rich and varied. Guides are bilingual, so there is no need to be fluent in Spanish. However, for Spanish classes the guides will speak totally in Spanish (if desired) for total Spanish immersion.

Request a quote for a student trip to Puerto Rico by filling out the brief online form, or email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Class Trips to Southeastern Virginia to Study Science

Many student trips to Virginia focus on early American history and the study of the Civil War. With sites like Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown Island, Yorktown Battlefields, Arlington National Cemetery, Monticello, and the historic homes of numerous presidents, it is no surprise many school trips to the Commonwealth focus on history. Yet a school trip to Virginia is also a great choice for the study of science.

In previous articles I have written about science destinations in Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. and an Eco Tour of Virginia.  This article will focus specifically on destinations in Southeastern Virginia in Norfolk, Hampton, and Virginia Beach.  Destinations on the science tour of Virginia can be combined with a student trip to Washington D.C. or Williamsburg or taken as a stand-alone educational tour of Virginia.

Nauticus, The National Maritime Center
Nauticus is located on the harbor in Norfolk, Virginia. The Museum is a 45-minute bus ride from Williamsburg and is well worth the trip.  Nauticus is home to battleship Wisconsin, the last battleship built by the U.S. Navy.  Students learn about the way science impacts Naval history and economics and methods and instruments used in navigating the sea.  School groups tour the battleship Wisconsin and the nearby museum. Afterwards, groups can have lunch at Waterside, and explore downtown Norfolk.

Mariners’ Museum
The Mariner’s Museum is located in Newport News, Virginia, and encompasses 60,000 square feet of exhibition space. Students can learn about maritime history and view artifacts from the Monitor battleship and exhibitions on topics such as the Chesapeake Bay watermen. Groups touring the museum will see handmade ship models, paintings, and photographs related to the history of work on the sea from world class collections. If the weather is nice, school groups can take a walk around Mariners’ Museum Park and Noland Trail, a naturally wooded setting surrounding Lake Maury.

Virginia Air and Space Center
The Virginia Air and Space Center is not far from NASA Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia, where America’s space exploration program first began in earnest.  The museum exhibits document over 100 years in aviation and provide visitors with an overview of space exploration that includes artifacts from space flights.  The Virginia Air and Space center houses over 30 planes. With its high tech interactive exhibits and an Imax theater on site, it is sure to be a popular destination for student groups.

Hampton Roads Harbor Cruise
One way for students to see and learn about life in the Chesapeake Bay region is to climb aboard a boat that gives students a view of the harbor.  Harbor cruises leave from either the port of Norfolk or Hampton, Virginia.  Each cruise includes slightly different views and points of interest.  Students will see the awe inspiring Norfolk Naval base, where aircraft carriers, submarines and other support vessels are docked. Groups will learn about other points of interest in the harbor that date to the time of the first English settlers and the Civil War.  The harbor cruise takes approximately two hours and offers a perspective that is stimulating and different from a walking tour.

Lifesaving Museum of Virginia
Student groups can take a trip to Virginia Beach, Virginia to explore the Lifesaving Museum of Virginia.  Here they will see the remains of shipwrecks, and learn about lifesaving and techniques and equipment used to rescue people from the sea.  Groups may elect to take a guided School of the Surfman tour that includes an overview of skills honed by rescuers and their stories.

The Southeastern corner of Virginia, also known as Tidewater Virginia, is the perfect place for students to engage in active learning about scientific topics.  It is rich in maritime history and the innovations of space exploration. The Tidewater area of Virginia is also home to the largest Naval base on the East Coast and several U.S. Coast Guard stations.  Depending upon curricular objectives, student tour leaders may also elect to add other destinations to the science tour such as a visit to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, the Virginia Marine Science Museum, the Virginia Living Museum, or the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center.

Request a Quote for a student trip or email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Class Trip on History of California is Funded by Major League Baseball Player

by Howard Clemens

Parker Lefton is a retired history teacher for Maclay Middle School in Pacoina California, just outside of Los Angeles.  He continues to work as an educator in his role as the volunteer coordinator of the Determined to Dream Foundation.  Garret Anderson, a recently retired Major League Baseball player who spent most of his career with the Los Angeles Angels, funds the Determined to Dream Foundation.  Anderson and his wife, Teresa, were once students at Maclay, and they have been actively funding and planning special projects at the school since 2003.

Garret Anderson’s Foundation Funds Reading Initiatives and Educational Trips
The Determined to Dream Foundation is the funding source for Maclay Middle School’s reading initiative and educational trips. Each year a group of students takes an educational tour on the East Coast to Boston, New York City or Philadelphia. Lefton also takes an annual trip with a group of students to historical and geographic points of interest in California. “I feel it’s important to expose kids at this school to the outside world.  Many of the kids who go to Maclay have not had the opportunity to get outside of L.A.,” commented Lefton.

Hunting for an Educational Travel Company that Offers Flexibility
When he first began hunting for an educational travel company, Lefton said he was disappointed to find that many of the companies he interviewed had definite itineraries that were not changeable.  “I didn’t necessarily like the tours other companies presented,” noted Lefton, “so I finally said yes to the company that was open to arranging the tour any way I wanted.”  Educational Travel Consultants was willing to customize the tour to match his curriculum. Consultants work with teachers to create educational tours that parallel teaching objectives. Pre-packaged tours of popular destinations are also available to school groups.

A Student Tour of California is Created
Lefton helped to create a six-day tour of California. The journey begins at Maclay Middle School near Los Angeles, continues up through the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Lake Tahoe, makes a stop in the San Francisco Bay area and Sacramento, and proceeds down the California coast through Monterey and Santa Cruz, then back to Los Angeles.

Students Travel to Sierra Nevada Mountains
Lefton wanted to begin the tour with an overview of the geography of the state.  The school trip starts with a visit to Mammoth Mountain, the site of the ancient volcano that erupted some 57,000 years ago. Students then proceed to nearby Lake Tahoe, another geographic wonder — a large and deep mountain lake that sits at approximately 6,225 feet in elevation and is located on the border of Nevada and California.  While touring the area, students also visit Coloma Valley, the place where gold was first discovered. This discovery triggered the 1849 California Gold Rush.

Touring Sacramento and San Francisco Bay
After spending a day in the Sierra Nevada Mountains the school group heads west to Sacramento to visit the California State Railroad Museum, where they learn about the construction of the transcontinental railroad. Here, the first of two educational exercises on the trip begins with an information hunt. Students work in pairs to find specific information in the Museum. The winners receive Target gift cards. While visiting Sacramento, students also tour the California State Capitol building, where they gain insight and perspective into state government.

Next on the itinerary is the San Francisco Bay area, where students visit Alcatraz Island Prison by boat, walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, tour Fort Point (an old Civil War era site), see the Maritime National Historic Park and take a walking tour of Chinatown.  In the evening the student group dines at a restaurant on Fishermen’s Wharf.

Santa Cruz & Monterey
The next day the school group moves south from the San Francisco area and visits Santa Cruz, where they see one of California’s redwood forests, and make a stop in Monterey, the first capital of California. Here, students consider the Mexican period in California history, visit the Monterey Aquarium, and see the Big Sur coastline from the vantage point of Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.

A Student Tour of an 18th Century Mission
On the way back to Los Angeles, the bus stops at Morro Bay, where a tour of the Museum of Natural History offers a visual and educational overview of the coastal area.  At their final stop, they tour La Purisima Mission, a wonderfully preserved example of a mission as it would have been in 1800.  Part two of the information hunt occurs at La Purisima, where students are tasked with finding specific details about mission history while on tour.

Competing for a Place on the California Tour
Funding limitations do not permit all students at Maclay Middle School to attend this grant-funded trip. So, Lefton and the Andersons have created an academic competition with winners awarded a place on the California tour.  The contest helps them to strive for better grades and also involves the element of luck.  Students are given tickets for a drawing for each acceptable grade in the A,B, and C range. “The more good grades they receive the first semester of school, the more entry tickets they have to enter the drawing,” says Lefton. Fourteen names are drawn from all of the entries, and these lucky students tour their home state.

This unique trip was created because a history teacher wanted to develop an educational tour that gave students an opportunity to engage in some active learning about their home state.  The California tour is ambitious in all of the sites it encompasses.  Students studying California history, geography, and social studies will benefit from a trip designed like this, or even one that is quite similar.  The tour could be scaled down to three or four days instead of five or six and still offer many learning opportunities.

For more information about scheduling a student trip of California, Request a Quote or email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Washington D.C. and Williamsburg Jamestown Yorktown Tour: How to Make it All Work

If an educational travel group is bound for Washington D.C. and the educators wish to expand that group’s exploration of our nation’s history, a visit to Virginia is in order. Just 2 ½ hours south of Washington D.C. by bus, Early American history awaits in Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown Settlement.

In 2007, Historic Jamestown celebrates its 400th Anniversary of the settlement of the English Colonies. This year kicks off many living history programs that explain the early colonial era from diverse perspectives. Even after 2007 is complete, many of these educational programs and exhibits will stay in place so the student traveler may learn from them, even if they do not make their visit during the 400th anniversary year.

The challenge for any educational travel company is how to make all of these destinations work for one student travel tour. For a four to five day tour, it takes advance planning and coordination to include educational tour highlights of Washington D.C. and Williamsburg & Jamestown in one tour — with many participants.

Here are some of the highlights I include in my company’s student travel tour of Washington D.C., Williamsburg & Jamestown:

Washington D.C.
Student travel groups enjoy a guided tour of the complete Washington D.C. area that includes sites such as The Capitol, The White House, the Lincoln Memorial, Supreme Court, National Archives and more. Students may also visit sites in Northern Virginia such as Mount Vernon and the Arlington Cemetery. As with all of our student travel groups, accommodations are in three diamond interior corridor suburban hotel, with 24-hour security provided.

Williamsburg Virginia
After two days of touring the Washington D.C. area, students embark on a short 2 ½ hour journey to Williamsburg Virginia to experience the colonial era with living history on the educational program. The Colonial Williamsburg complete sightseeing tour will include a visit to 18th Century historical buildings such as the Capitol and the Courthouse, the Public Hospital of 1773, Raleigh Tavern, and the Peyton Randolph House.

Jamestown Settlement Virginia
Jamestown Settlement is a recreation of the first English settlement in Virginia, Jamestown Island. Student travel groups will see replicas of the ships that made the journey from England: the Discovery, the Godspeed and Susan Constant. They will enter a living history exhibit of an Indian Village, and see a recreation of James Fort, where the colonists first lived. This interactive approach to history, called living history or even active learning by some educators, is a great way to engage students in learning about the colonial era.

The educational student tour of Washington D.C. and Williamsburg/Jamestown is balanced by fun and educational experiences. Students benefit from a guided tour of Washington D.C. and historic Williamsburg and living history educational programs at Jamestown Settlement. With this approach to educational travel, students are given a great learning experience as well as a trip to remember for a lifetime.