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Student Travel Groups Visiting NYC: Include a Tour of the Most Magnificent Cathedrals in the World

by Howard Clemens

student travel nyc
Saint John the Divine Cathedral in NYC is a great place for student tour groups to visit.

When most people hear the word ‘cathedral,’ they generally think, initially of cities like London, Paris, and Rome. But it’s also true that many wonders of religious architecture are located in North America. And New York City, in particular, is home to some of the most breathtaking cathedrals in the world. Which means that student travel groups headed to NYC looking to experience the full impact of architectural excess and Catholic iconography are in for a truly immersive treat.

Exploring all of the Big Apple’s cathedrals is a no small task. For Catholic school trip leaders, a full Cathedral Tour of NYC may be desirable. Other class trips may choose to incorporate a tour of one of New York’s cathedrals in a neighborhood they are visiting, or to expand upon the study of a historical period.

Consult with an educational travel company prior to building an itinerary that showcases some of the city’s most impressive cathedrals. So where is a trip leader of a student travel group to begin? This short list of cathedrals in NYC is a great place to start.

student trips nyc
Saint Patrick’s is a famous cathedral in NYC.

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral: A NYC Landmark
With its spectacular Neo-Gothic architecture and interiors modeled on the ancient churches of Italy, the world famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral is a magnificent starting point for any student tour of NYC. The cathedral has over 65 stained glass windows, the most famous being its 26-foot rose window, a towering masterpiece made up of more than 10,000 pieces of glass in a dazzling variety of colors. Students can also see a statue of the Lady of Guadalupe at the Altar of the Sacred Heart, an awe-inspiring devotional site that’s lit by hundreds of candles. For student groups visiting other sites in Manhattan, St. Patrick’s location is perfect. It’s right in the middle of bustling midtown Manhattan, across the street from the Rockefeller Center and its ice-skating rink. A visit to Saint Patrick’s is worthwhile. After visiting the cathedral, student tour groups may want to cap off the day with a fun-filled whirl across the ice.

Saint John the Divine: The Fourth Largest Christian Church in the World
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, located in the Manhattan “college neighborhood” of Morningside Heights, has the notable distinction of being the fourth largest Christian church in the world. The church is known for its exquisite works of art, which include the Barberini tapestries, woven in the 17th century and inspired by the life of Christ. Saint John the Divine’s entrance is magnificent with its bronze doors, which were cast by Ferdinand Barbedienne of France, the same artist who cast the Statue of Liberty. The cathedral also has its very own cultivated Biblical gardens, which feature a wide variety of the plants and flowers that are mentioned in the Bible. Student travel groups may even take a guided rooftop walking tour, taking them up spiral staircases that wind up to the very top of the cathedral. Since Saint John the Divine is located in an academic neighborhood, groups can take the opportunity to spend part of the day touring famous nearby institutions such as: Union Theological Seminary, the Manhattan School of Music or Columbia University.

Riverside Church: History and Architectural Grandeur
Morningside Heights is also home to Riverside Church. As the tallest church in America (and the 24th tallest church in the world), Riverside covers two full city blocks and boasts a 392-foot bell tower. It is also known for its impressive stained glass apse dome, and for the labyrinthine “maze” inlaid on its floors. The church has a rich cultural and social history. Dignitaries such as Martin Luther King to Nelson Mandela have spoken there. The Riverside Church has its own theater, which is has been host to many musical and dance performances.

New York City has many cathedrals in different neighborhoods, as well as churches with longstanding religious and political histories. These three itinerary selections were made because they are in Manhattan and all student groups visit this part of New York City. To further enhance the student travel experience, work directly with an educational travel company for even more ideas on cathedrals to visit in NYC.

Inquire about booking a cathedral tour that’s bound to be as spiritually enlightening as it is fun and educational: email Educational Travel Consultants at info@educationaltravelconsultants.com, or visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Broadway Musicals 2014: Fun and Appropriate Shows for School Trips to NYC

This year, Broadway Musicals are more popular than ever with student tour groups going to New York City.  I usually recommend the most sought after tickets on Broadway to student trip leaders. This article contains my selection of musicals popular in 2014. If an educational travel company works far enough in advance (six months to one year) we usually can obtain group tickets to the performance of choice.  For many school trips, large blocks of tickets are required.  So, working in advance as much as possible is key to obtaining a block of seats for the musical of choice.

Since the popularity of Disney’s High School Musical, many student travelers are interested in attending a Broadway Musical. For some, it is an once-in-a-lifetime event. Make it special for students by making them part of the process. Teachers may discuss which musical to see while still in the planning stages of a student trip.

Here are my recommendations for student travel groups in the 2014 Broadway season:

Wicked is one of the most popular shows on Broadway in 2014.

Wicked
This popular musical offers a new twist on the Wizard of Oz, told from the perspective of the green, (bad?) witch.  Audiences will get to know Glenda, the good witch, too.  Wicked turns ideas about magic and the Wizard of Oz upside down, and does it with terrific songs and a great storyline that follows the novel, Wicked, closely.  For audiences, the stage set of Wicked will offer some special supernatural surprises showing the depths of the power of Oz with digital light and sound effects and phenomenal stage construction.  Wicked is taking the U.S. by storm, offering shows in major cities, too.  But there’s nothing like seeing Wicked on Broadway.

Mamma Mia is filled with Abba songs. Audiences sing-a-long.

Mamma Mia
Many people expect Mamma Mia to be an Abba tribute. It’s true that the musical uses Abba’s music in the Broadway Musical production. The storyline for the musical is unique, and originally written, with Abba songs woven through it. It’s about a woman in search of her real father, and on her wedding day, three of her mother’s former boyfriends present themselves. Mamma Mia is set in the era of Abba music, the 1970s, and uses retro costuming and stage sets to glamourize the period.  This musical is now celebrating its 10th year on Broadway!  Dancing Queen, and the signature song, Mamma Mia are some of the songs audience anticipate. It’s the kind of musical where you will see people dancing and singing along.

The Lion King
This epic production of Disney’s The Lion King is not to be missed. This musical has it all.   Thanks to costuming and scenery that captures the magic of Africa, an all star cast headed by Alton Fitzgerald White as Mufasa and Gareth Saxe as Scar and music and lyrics that inspire — The Lion King is one of the hottest tickets on Broadway.   In New York City there are eight performances each week.  Teachers interested in taking classes to see The Lion King need to book as far in advance as possible.

The Phantom of the Opera
This Broadway Musical has been a top running show for decades and can be considered an all time classic.  With the lyrics to The Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Weber, the soundtrack has become familiar to many.  Learn more about the Phantom, a mysterious male figure who resides in the depths of the Paris Opera house, and roams the building whenever he pleases.   The Phantom is in love with Christine, a new, young chorus singer he helps teach – and catapults to operatic fame.  The costuming, scenery, music and dance are sure to thrill and captivate any student group audience.

Seeing a show on Broadway in New York City is a wonderful experience for any student.  Selecting the show is often difficult for trip leaders, because there are so many excellent, worthwhile musicals to see. This is my own selection of Broadway Musicals that are popular right now – and appropriate for student travel groups. There are numerous other plays student groups may enjoy or educators may find Broadway Musicals which parallel their curriculum in some way.  Learn more by visiting Broadway.com.

Include a Broadway musical in a school trip to New York City. Book a school trip today by visiting http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

On-site Access to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Still Closed to Student Groups Visiting New York City

by Howard Clemens

The Statue of Liberty is a popular student travel destination in NYC. It has been closed since Hurricane Sandy in October, 2012 but will reopen later in 2013.

Post Hurricane Sandy damage does have an affect on student groups, because as of February 2013, the Statue of Liberty, a major NYC student travel destination, is still closed.  But student tour groups can still experience an awe-inspiring view of Lady Liberty by taking a scenic and exciting cruise around it. The famous landmark, located on its very own 12 acre mini piece of land known as Liberty Island, was flooded out—though fortunately not damaged—when Hurricane Sandy hit it last October.

Hurricane Sandy put nearly 75 percent of Liberty Island underwater. The island is still without power, but generators are being used to light the statue, so students will still be able to appreciate the wonder of seeing it lit up at night. The Statue of Liberty was undergoing renovation and had reopened to the public on October 28 of last year—her 125th anniversary—only to be closed again the following day when the hurricane hit.

Ellis Island has also been closed since Hurricane Sandy struck in late October 2012.

Student Travel Leaders, Alternatives for Trips to NYC Include Boat Tours

Historical Ellis Island, located in nearby Jersey City, NJ, is also still closed to visitors. The Island was almost completely submerged during the storm, and is still in the process of being cleared of debris and restored to normal, but students will still be able to see it by cruising around it. There are many Harbor tour companies in the NYC area that go all over Manhattan Island, some of which, like City Sights New York, feature dinner or brunch. Circle Line Sightseeing Tours offers day or night cruises ranging from three hours to 75 minutes. It’s easy to make a day or night-out of the expedition, depending on the particular teacher’s objectives and the student travel group’s schedule. One of the area’s most popular cruises is the Statue of Liberty Harbor Cruise, which departs 14 times a day on the half hour. As the historical entry point for millions of immigrants, Ellis Island is an important site for any student tour of NYC to include.  Staten Island, another popular student travel destination, is accessible, though parts of it are still undergoing relief efforts.

Student Tours to NYC Offer Many Options Despite Closings

No teacher or student travel group leader should have to feel that their students are going to be compromised by the closures or that their students are going to miss out on one of the highlights of a student tour of New York City.  There are still a multitude of cultural sites for students to see in the city. Some of the most popular ones include the Broadway theater district and Times Square, the United Nations, Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Students can also visit Greenwich Village, Chinatown, and Little Italy to immerse themselves in the kinds of hands-on, authentic cultural experiences that only the Big Apple can offer.

Post Sandy Experience of NYC Landmarks Affords Antique Historical Perspective for Students

It should also be remembered that post-Hurricane Sandy boat tours around the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island can provide students a unique historical perspective, as closures of this sort are obviously rare. Combining a cruise around the sites with visits to other important NYC landmarks can be an enlightening way for students to try to put contemporary events and challenges into perspective, especially surrounding issues of diversity and immigration.  Visiting Ellis Island and seeing the Statue of Liberty by boat is a reminder that these issues must be incorporated into studies in ways that will enrich their understanding of the times they live in. Hurricane Sandy is also a pivotal point in NYC history, so such perspectives have value as a regional examination, as well.

There is a tentative reopening date of October 2013 for both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Student travel organizers can keep abreast of developments by visiting the official National Park Service website, or visiting their Twitter page.

For more information about student trips to NYC, request a quote online.

Student Trip to NYC Includes a Visit to Cleveland and Niagara Falls

Mike Davis is a Guidance Counselor at Gallatin High School in Warsaw, Kentucky. This spring, he took his students on a tour that encompassed a range of iconic landmarks, from Niagara Falls to the Statue of Liberty to the 9/11 Memorial. It was a trip that exposed students to a wealth of cultural, natural, and contemporary highlights of the American landscape and its history.

Since the group comprised both music and business students, Davis planned an itinerary that would be of interest to both study groups. He planned visits to sites such as the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame and Radio City Music Hall and took the group on a walking tour of the NYC financial district. I recently had a chance to interview Mike about what he and his students had found most memorable about the visit.

Q. What is your official title at the high school?

A. Guidance Counselor

Q. What is the theme of your tour, and how does it tie into the subject(s) you teach?

A. I teach a beginning piano class here at school and the trip evolved from that class. It was a dual tour, partly my piano class and partly the Future Business Leaders of America, which is a club in the school supervised by Angela Baker, who was also a chaperone on our trip. The trip was my idea. I brought Angela along because I thought business kids would enjoy going to NYC. The trip included a walking tour of NYC’s financial district. We took 33 students all together, with two teachers and three parents.

Q. I noticed some unique tour stops. For example, you visited the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame, which must have been great for the music class.  Why did you select these sites?

A. Yes, it’s the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.  The students were caught off-guard, as they were expecting it to be more musical.  They figured they’d be hearing lots of musical hits. There are stations where you can stop and listen to music being featured in the museum. They saw a lot of famous outfits that had been worn on stage, Elvis’s car, and more. Most of the material was memorabilia. Then there’s also the place where you can see who has been inducted into the hall, which was really exciting for them.

Q. You visited NBC Studios. Did the group get a live look at the set in action? What was their response to this site?

A. It was great. We got to see the ‘Saturday Night Live’ set and the set for Brian Williams, Rock Center.  Our tour was in the morning, and the sets were empty.  We saw NBC Coast to Coast, and observed how different material was developed for the East and West Coasts.  We also observed how NBC had changed since being acquired by Universal.

Q. What did the group see and experience in their visit to Radio City Music Hall?

A. That was an exceptionally good tour! They took us inside, outside, up and down. We got to meet one of the Rockettes. She spoke to the group and they got to take pictures with her. There was a lot of walking—I don’t think the students realized how big the facility was, but they really enjoyed themselves.

Q. The student travel group visited Times Square, did a Manhattan Tour and visited the site of the Twin Towers (911 Memorial). Why was it important to you to include these sites?

A. We had a whirlwind tour, and saw about as much as we possibly could see. It was important because I don’t think any of the kids had been to NYC, so we wanted them to get the full impact of all those places. We also visited Chinatown, and had dinner in Little Italy one evening.

Q. Visiting Niagara Falls must have been a spectacular treat for the group. Describe some reactions to seeing it for the first time.

A. It was! They felt and saw the power of the falls and learned about the amount of water that flows through it. We saw the American and Canadian sides.  I surprised the kids with Niagara Falls, since Cleveland is only three hours away. We got there during the day and took pictures.  Afterwards, we were able to get pretty close to NYC by that evening.

Q.What is the Sony Wonder Lab?  What did your group do there?

A. The Wonder Lab was the suggestion of Ms. Baker. It’s a multi story building, with interactive exhibits (digital images and broadcast booths). It was popular and crowded, and they loved it.

Q. Your students saw two Broadway Plays: “Wicked” and “Phantom of the Opera”.  Why was it important to you to get two plays in? What influenced your selection of plays?

A. We’re fairly close to Cincinnati, and they have Broadway shows here. It is just so much different to be able to say you actually saw a play on Broadway.  I thought these were both very different musicals. “Phantom” is a traditional opera show, and “Wicked” is an upbeat modern musical. The kids loved both shows.

Q. Please comment on any post trip writing or speaking you required your students to perform.

A. We played a little game on the way home. I got on the bus microphone and asked them different questions about the trip. And they would answer these trip trivia questions.  For example, I would ask, “How many seats were in the Radio City Music Hall?” and they would answer if they knew it. Everyone had a fantastic time.  The tour company was very good, and great to work with. They didn’t deter me from any of the sites I wanted to visit. I had in my mind what I wanted to do, rather than a pre-packaged deal. We were coming from so far away, we needed to get as much in as possible, which we did. We hope to do it again in another year or two.

There are a myriad of options available for student travel groups, and they can be tailored to engage every group’s unique focus and interests. Every classroom is different, and with imagination and planning, teachers can work with travel groups to create itineraries that are custom designed to bring out student’s enthusiasm for learning. By incorporating touring into their curriculum, more and more teachers are helping student travel be what it’s supposed to be: both recreational and educational.

A Round Up of Student Travel Destinations

Performance Cruise for Student Travel

Band directors, music teachers and music students – have you ever considered taking a student performance group on a cruise? Student performance cruises are a great way to bring the group together and help them focus on a performance. Whether it’s a high school band, orchestra, or ensemble, the performance cruise will be a trip they will never forget.

The student travel group will be able to go island hopping in the Caribbean, and disembark from a choice of ports in Florida. Convenient ports of call, multiple destinations, great food, and wonderful performance venues are all good reasons to book a performance tour for a student travel group today.

Request a Quote for your group.


Some Hints for Planning an Educational Field Trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

There are a few things to keep in mind when planning an educational field trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in New York City.

The National Park service recommends that groups maintain a ratio of 1 adult to every 10 students. Chaperones must remain with their students at all times on the ferry and while touring the islands and monuments.

To enter the Statue of Liberty, each member of the group needs a monument pass. It is best to get these in advance because there is a limited number available at the ferry stations.

Also, due to security measures at the ferry landings and the monuments themselves, allow for extra time to pass through primary security screenings similar to those of airports.

And be sure to consult the National Park Service’s guidelines concerning items that are banned from the monuments. As noted in the article published on the Educational Travel Consultants website, it is probably best to encourage students to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island without backpacks or large purses.

New York City Student Travel

The best idea for students travel groups destined for New York City is to pack lightly. When visiting buildings such as the Statue of Liberty, The Empire State Building, and the United Nations Building, students should expect to go through security.

An article recently posted to the Educational Travel Consultant’s blog contains a recent interview with Karen Goodman, a licensed New York City tour guide, who gives student groups tips on how best to prepare for post 911 security regulations in buildings. We understand that security regulations are important and respect the need for them. Learn how to be prepared and save time on tours of New York City.

Performance Tours for Drama Students: Travel to New York City and Toronto

Drama departments and drama clubs in high school and even junior high are filled with students who could benefit from a unique travel experience to a larger, more urban area, such as Toronto, or New York City. In these two North American cities, the Broadway theater district thrives. An international audience visits Toronto and New York City to see the newest, most popular Broadway plays and musicals.

New York City and Toronto: The Best of Broadway

As a student travel tour consultant, I have specialized in bringing theater groups on performance tours that include pre or post Broadway show workshops to enhance the theater going experience. These unique active learning experiences offer the perfect academic complement to an evening of theater in New York City or Toronto.

A High School Musical Tour to Broadway
Combine a trip to Broadway play or musical with a visit to an authentic Broadway Classroom Basic Workshop. In the past, students have seen such famous plays as Wicked, The Lion King, and Phantom of the Opera on Broadway in New York City or in Toronto. Prior to watching shows, Broadway actors and actresses describe and illustrate their professional, highly visible roles on Broadway and offer education and insight about the professional theater industry and their craft.

Active Learning for Educational Group Travel
Students learn a great deal in the Broadway Classroom Basic Workshops. In many instances, it is Broadway actors themselves teaching classes in Toronto and New York City. Students come to understand that work in professional theater has its rewards as well as challenges and demands. Student travel groups involved in drama departments or drama clubs gain an insider’s viewpoint on the theater community, and its inner workings, in these major cities.

Broadway Classrooms Basic Workshops Offered
for Student Travel Groups

Broadway Classroom offers excellent, hands-on theater workshops for the drama student or drama club participant.

Broadway 101
In this drama workshop, students will be given a fresh overview of the artistic, political, and social significances of Broadway Theater. They will come to understand the special training involved in becoming a Broadway actor or actress. Drama students gain valuable lessons in voice, storytelling, and focus/listening exercises in the Broadway 101 workshop.

Theater in Context
The subjects of Broadway plays and musicals are derived from many different cultures and time periods. Learning about the historic and literary periods that the Broadway show was created within assists a drama student to widen his or her perception of the work when he or she sees it performed.

Stage Combat
This safe, student friendly workshop illustrates the way in which fights and other forms of combat are staged in contemporary theater. Professionals show students how collaboration and spectacle combine to make combat seem real on stage.

Theater Sports
This workshop shows drama students and drama club members how to work as a team to communicate effectively and create great scenes. Students will learn about increasing focus and attention, activating their creativity, and attuning themselves to the sensitivities of others.

Attending a Broadway play or musical is an exciting event, for any student. Yet for a drama student or drama club member, Broadway can actually be a professional goal. By attending the Broadway Classroom workshops, the educator is encouraging student travel groups to attain this lofty goal, and grounding it in some reality. For many students, a real glimpse into behind the scenes of Broadway inspires the dream, and helps shape it for the future. Visit Educational Travel Consultants for more information on the performance tour to New York City or Toronto.

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