Tag Archives: student travel nyc

Education and Youth Services Takes Student Travel Groups from NYC on College Tours

by Howard Clemens

Many students from New York City’s five boroughs have never been outside of the city where they live.  Some have not stayed overnight in a hotel. Educational and Youth Services has organized college tours for students interested in attending college. These tours give prospective college students from under served communities a chance to leave the city for destinations like upstate New York, Boston or Washington D.C. These student travelers explore what it might be like to live outside New York City in an academic environment with their peers.

For many entering the workforce, a job is far more lucrative with foundational training.  Sandi Rosenthal is the Senior Director of Workforce Development at Education and Youth Services in New York. She has been working with the 16-24 age group for several years, helping them to decide between college, trade and tech schools, or full-time employment.

There are lots of opportunities right in New York City for trade and technical schools and employment.  “We do take students to City University of NY (CUNY) locally, all the time.  We also explore some of the better vocational programs, such as culinary and IT schools, to expose them to these types of professions,” said Rosenthal.  “These organizations train students and they earn a certificate rather than a degree.  Often these students are placed in jobs after completion of the programs, thanks to excellent job placement services,” added Rosenthal.

Then there are the students who perform well academically or have shown promise at the community college level and want to seek an advanced degree.  Like their peers, they need to reach out and tour college campuses, to get a feel for college life. But not all students have the time or resources to leave the city and travel. Nor do their parents, who struggle with the high cost of living in New York City – one of the most expensive cities in the U.S.

So Education and Youth Services has designed a program to make sure these students have a glimpse of academic life. It’s already in its second year. “This year we are taking students to the State University of New York,” said Rosenthal.  “Choosing a college like SUNY gives those who want to attend a chance to leave New York City and they can still return to visit their families by bus or train.”   Student groups may also tour colleges in Boston and Washington D.C.. “On these types of student trips we expose them to colleges as well as some of the cultural sites in these historic cities,” commented Rosenthal.

A firsthand look at college life inspires many to begin the laborious college application process.  “Kids do apply to some of the schools they’ve actually visited,” says Rosenthal.  When students show an interest in a school, Workforce Development staff steps them through the long process of application forms and fees, SATs, and financial aid applications.   This oversight ensures that many who truly want a higher education have a chance to receive one.  “If students leave colleges they attended outside of NYC and come back home, we also work to help get them back into local colleges, taking them through the application process again,” said Rosenthal.

Workforce Development for Educational and Youth Services in New York City is a large organization. Before embarking on this project the organization put out a request for bids. Three to four organizations replied. Educational Travel Consultants (ETC) bid to design and execute these college tours was accepted. ETC is based in Hendersonville, North Carolina and has has been taking students on college tours for over five years. The educational travel company has designed college tours for specific areas of the U.S. and different types of colleges such as historically black colleges or Ivy League universities.  Often guidance counselors and teachers at the high school level will organize these college tours so students with academic aspirations have a chance to survey several colleges before making a choice about where to apply and attend.

Request a quote for college tours anywhere in the U.S.

Student Travel to NYC: Ellis Island Reopens

One of the most popular and most visited national monuments in the United States, Ellis Island, is now partially reopened after receiving devastating blows from Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.

Preparing Students for a Trip to New York City to See The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
Prior to a class trip to New York City, teachers often encourage students to spend time in the classroom viewing the Statue of Liberty’s various webcams. There is the Crown Cam, the Torch Cam, and even a full panorama live streaming cam.  In 1916 access to the torch was restricted, making these webcams the first ever completely unobstructed view of the New York harbor in generations.

Webcams are a great way to familiarize students, but taking a boat trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is a once in a lifetime adventure for many who have never visited NYC or this historic site before.

Thousands of people are back to visiting the State of Liberty again each day after interruptions from damage by Hurricane Sandy, and the Federal Government shutdown in October 2013.   Did you know Lady Liberty’s face (not including the crown) is eight feet high?  This 225-ton statue was a gift to the United States from France in 1886 to commemorate the important friendship between the two nations during the American Revolution.  The statue was 350 pieces that had to be shipped to New York harbor then reassembled, a giant metal puzzle representing the brave fight for liberty.  The famous Emma Lazarus poem “The New Colossus” from the voice of the statue ends with the remarkable reminder, “Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, / I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

An incredible, breathtaking journey awaits all students who visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  Over twelve million weary, overwrought human beings passed through Ellis Island between the years 1892 and 1954.  More than half a century of immigration occurred in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, first designated as a check in point by president Benjamin Harrison.  The Native American’s called Ellis Island Kioshk, or Gull Island because of the abundant oyster beds the birds would feed on.

Many history and social studies teachers know that one of the most important places in the United States to visit for a significant historical and cultural reference is Ellis Island.  Students can learn more about immigration to the United States during the years of growth and even investigate their own ancestry – provided they come prepared with information.

The American Immigrant Wall of Honor on the Ellis Island tour is astounding and has the effect of connecting many to their history as immigrants. The wall overlooks the Statue of Liberty and is the longest wall of names in the world, and you can join fourth and fifth generation Americans pouring over the wall looking for long lost relatives from Ireland, Italy, Germany, and other countries.

The People of America Center is the newest expansion of Ellis Island’s historic landmark built to preserve the countless stories of the families who came to make this one of the greatest nations on Earth.  The exhibits are interactive and engaging, with stories ranging from the pre-Colonial immigration patterns to the great potato famine of Ireland.

The Flag of Faces exhibit is one of the most popular interactive displays at Ellis Island to date.  Individual American faces set into the mosaics of red, white, and blue to make the American flag.  You too can have your face and the faces of your family included in this project while it is still in process.  Ask about this opportunity when visiting, or check out the Ellis Island Foundation website for additional details.  You want to make sure to stop and spend some time with the Flag of Faces exhibit when on tour at Ellis Island.

The American Family Immigration History Center is one of the true highlights of any tour to Ellis Island.  This engaging interactive exhibit allows visitors to access immigrant boat passenger records of more than 22 million people.  When visiting students should come prepared by bringing the full name of an ancestor, their ethnicity, and approximate landing time in the Port of New York or Ellis Island. Chances are good these inquiries will result in seeing actual data on the first day the first member of a family stepped foot on American soil.  There are also photos of ships and manifest records to be viewed, as featured on The Today Show on broadcast television.

Student trip leaders may now plan trips that incorporate a visit to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Now is the time to start going back to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, since many repairs have been made. The entire facility is not yet ready for the complete tour.  Expect renovations on the rest of Ellis Island to be underway during 2013 and 2014 – until complete.

For more information on booking a student travel group on a tour of New York City that includes a visit to Ellis Island and other destinations, visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Educational Travel Consultants Expands Staff, Celebrates 30 Years in Business

(Hendersonville, NC)  Educational Travel Consultants (ETC) celebrates its 30th year in the student travel business. ETC was founded by Howard and Cheryl Clemens, now deceased. Their daughters, Tiffany and Kristen Clemens, are assuming management roles in the company this year, with their father, Howard Clemens, as CEO.  “I’m pleased Tiffany and Kristen are as committed to this company as I am,” remarked Howard Clemens.  “We’ve been organizing student trips to Washington D.C. and other locations since they were children, so they have plenty of experience.  Their mother was a real motivating force in getting them involved in running the company.”

Tiffany Clemens graduated from the University of Texas Brownsville with a Bachelors degree in International Business. She speaks Spanish and is working on a Certificate from New York University in Spanish to English translation. Tiffany Clemens has worked for ETC since 2002 and she is the General Manager.

Kristen Clemens has a background in education. Her previous positions were at the Love and Learning Pre-School and Telamond Migrant Headstart. At Telamond, she used her fluency in Spanish to work with a Hispanic student population.  Kristen Clemens is Educational Travel Coordinator for K-12 school trips.

ETC began by serving the Washington D.C., New York City and Orlando student travel markets in 1983, with informative educational tours for K-12 groups at affordable prices with no hidden charges or fees.

As the company evolved, student tours of Philadelphia, Boston, New York City, Williamsburg and Gettysburg were added to the roster as well as other major U.S. cities and some Canadian and Mexican destinations.

ETC became popular with educators who coordinated trips with the company each year.  ETC founders and staff started to formulate specific tours geared towards areas of study such as history, science, performance and other types of class trips. Staff accommodated teachers by designing custom school trips to focus on special areas of study.  The professionalism ETC staff demonstrates has enabled the company to retain loyal teachers and student travelers for decades.

Over the past three decades, ETC established a solid name as a student tour company to be relied upon to keep prices for individual students low enough for the maximum number of students to attend their class trips.  Visit the website to learn more about Educational Travel Consultants or email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Statue of Liberty Reopening, Updates on Observation Tower for 911 Memorial

By Howard Clemens

Good news for student travel groups planning trips to New York City: the Statue of Liberty will be reopening this July—right in time for 2013’s July 4th celebration, says the National Park Service. This event, eagerly awaited since last fall, represents an important time in the history of both New York City and the nation at large.

The statue has been closed since Hurricane Sandy made landfall (a day after the statue’s 126th birthday) in late October of 2012. This means that student travel groups traveling to NYC this autumn will be able to experience an historic and exciting reopening.

Reservations for Statue’s Crown to Open in September 2013

The Statue of Liberty has been one of the world’s premiere student travel destinations for generations. Though nearby Ellis Island is not yet scheduled to reopen, the Statue, which welcomed 3.7 million visitors in 2011, is expected to become one of this fall’s most popular destinations. Student travel groups will once again be able to visit the famous observation area inside the Statue’s crown. Ask your student travel company to make reservations now for a visit to the Statue of Liberty in the fall of 2013.  More information, including updates on the Ellis Island reopening, can be found by visiting the National Park Service’s website. Reservations will be facilitated by the Statue’s official ferry provider, Statue Cruises.

Student Trips to NYC can include a visit to the Statue of Liberty with Other Historic Sites

Student travel groups who will be visiting during the statue’s historic reopening will benefit from combining their trip with visits to other important NYC sites. The Empire State Building, the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, Times Square, and Governor’s Island are only a few of the limitless options available to groups. Coney Island is also a famous landmark that’s an easy subway ride from Manhattan. Student travel group leaders may choose to visit any of New York’s many famous and thriving neighborhoods, like Chinatown, Little Italy, Greenwich Village, and the art district of SoHo. Student groups can visit Central Park and Madison Square Garden, or tour the United Nations. The NYC “Sky Ride”, which departs from the second floor of the Empire State Building, is a simulated way for students to experience the city from the air via a “specially designed platform which moves in sync to an 18 foot high-definition screen,” according to the attraction’s website.

Preview of 911 Memorial Observation Deck promises historic opportunity to-come for students

This month, select guests and media were given a preview of the observation deck for the 911 Memorial. According to an article in the Tampa Bay Times, the observation deck tours will be “packaged like a theme park ride,” and visitors to the deck will watch a narrated video before “the actual panoramic view is revealed.” The deck is slated to be completed in 2014 and is expected to be “The Yankee Stadium of observation decks.” So student travel groups will have an exciting and historic visit to look forward to once the panorama opens to the public, most likely in 2015. The 911 Museum itself will also be opening in 2014, which will provide student travel groups with an even more valuable experience.

The Statue of Liberty is one of NYC’s most famous landmarks, and students will be able to be a part of its legacy by visiting it when it is once again unveiled. This year will provide great and unprecedented opportunities for groups to see this symbol of freedom in a brand new light.

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Eastern U.S. Explorer Tour the Ultimate Student Travel Experience for Chinese Students

The Eastern US Explorer tour is a great opportunity for Chinese students to tour the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. This tour is longer than most student tours, spanning a 10-12 day period, rather than just a four to seven days. The student tour was specifically designed for Chinese students to experience college tours of select U.S. universities, see cultural and historic sites in the Eastern United States and shop at some of the most desirable locations in New York City, Washington D.C. and other destination cities.   Encompassing everything from camping and outdoor activities to visits to Harvard and Yale to the glamour of NYC and Broadway, this is a fully integrated cultural immersion tour students are guaranteed never to forget.

Fully guided tours of NYC and Boston provide firsthand look at American history

The adventure starts in Boston, with a day scheduled at Thompson Island Outward Bound.  There, students will learn about the environment and experience the fun of the outdoors with the Trust and Self-Reliance program, which includes a ‘high ropes challenge’ and a ferry ride. Students will also take a guided tour of Boston’s Freedom Trail, which includes Boston Common, the State House, and the USS Constitution, famously known as ‘Old Ironsides.’ While in the Boston area, Chinese students will visit Walden Pond, made famous by Henry David Thoreau, and spend an afternoon at Plymouth Plantation on a reproduction of the world famous Mayflower ship, on which the pilgrims crossed. These activities will expose them to unique aspects of American history.

From Boston and surrounding areas, students will travel to New York City. The guided tour of the Big Apple includes trips to Madison Square Garden, Chinatown, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, NBC Studios, Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange, the Empire State Building, and many other notable sites. Students will also experience the thrill of a night on Broadway, which includes dinner and a musical.

College Tours of Ivy League Universities and Top Name Schools

During the course of the trip, students will tour Harvard, Yale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), New York University (NYU), Columbia University, and others. All tours include lunch and/or opportunities to sit in on classes.  A full portrait of the academic landscape is presented, including an opportunity to see what typical day-to-day life at various campuses is like. At Harvard, students will lunch with others in the freshman residence hall. At NYU, they will request to sit in on a business or women’s studies class. At Columbia University, they’ll attend a journalism or marketing class. And at Yale, they’ll have the opportunity to meet with the Yale-China Association and the SOM Program for Social Enterprise.

Exploring Humanitarian, Social, and Environmental Causes

Exposure to different aspects of existence is essential to education. So, students will have the opportunity to volunteer at a NYC soup kitchen or homeless shelter.  They will also volunteer at a retirement center or senior home. Interacting with others in these environments will provide students with a chance to see sides of American life that is not immediately visible to a traveler, and to develop a deeper appreciation for the value of service to others. Students will also visit Honey Brook Organic Farm in New Jersey, where they will have the opportunity to learn about sustainable living.

The final leg of the tour will be in Washington, D.C.—a visit that will include a full tour of the US Capitol. Student tour leaders will also be given the opportunity to schedule a visit with a U.S. Senator or Congressman, up close and in person.  And they’ll enjoy an Illuminated tour of Memorials and Monuments, which includes the Lincoln, Jefferson, Vietnam, World War II, and Korean memorials, among others. They will also visit the Supreme Court and the Smithsonian Museums, and may tour the White House, depending upon availability.

Chinese Student Travel in the U.S.

The U.S. Explorer Tour has been consistently described by students and educators as the ‘ultimate’ tour for students wanting to be introduced to America’s educational system, history, and culture. By being fully comprehensive and interactive, it has served to help students acclimate to U.S. culture more easily, and provided a vivid and unforgettable portrait of what academic and cultural life in the U.S. is like.

Student Travel Tour to NYC Introduces Foreign Exchange Students to American Culture

by Howard Clemens

Recently, Tim Dougherty, Director of Admissions at Cathedral Preparatory School and Villa Maria Academy, took his international and foreign exchange students on a tour of New York City.

The tour was included as part of a package designed to encourage international students to enroll in both schools. It was also an attempt to introduce students to American culture, by exposing them to historical American landmarks like the Empire State Building and the United Nations.

With the help of his student travel company, Dougherty worked out a tour that turned out to be a great success, and a wonderful way for his students to make the transition into the United States. I interviewed him about his experience recently, and he went over some of the details of the trip.

Q. What is your official position at Cathedral Prep?

A.  My title is Director of Admissions at Cathedral Preparatory School and Villa Maria Academy.  Cathedral Prep is an all-male school of approximately 600 students and Villa is an all-female school of over 300 students.  We have one common administration, one curriculum, one school calendar, but we have two campuses…one for boys and one for girls.  Both Cathedral Prep and Villa belong to the Catholic Diocese of Erie in Pennsylvania.

Q. When you planned this student trip to New York City, what was your vision? How does the trip tie into studies?

A.  The trip was purely for entertainment and sightseeing for the students, many who had never been to New York City.  We were not covering New York City in the classroom, and it was not tied into any educational program we have.  When planning the trip I envisioned seeing all the famous sights in the city and allowing the students to have a real “New York” experience.

Q. Many of the students traveling were foreign exchange students. Can you explain how this came about? Give me some background on your school and families and their relationship to foreign exchange students.

A.  We have recently initiated an international program (consisting of mostly Chinese students) at Prep and Villa.  The students are exceptional in the classroom and pay top-dollar to study in the USA, so in order to entice them to enroll at our schools we included a yearly trip to New York City as part of the tuition package.  All of the 28 students on the trip were international students, mostly from China.  We had one student from Denmark and one other from Slovakia.

Q. The Empire State Building was on your itinerary. Why did you think it was important to bring the group here? What was their experience like?

A. The Empire State Building is one of the most recognizable images of New York City, and in America.  All of our international students were familiar with it—they’d seen it on television and in movies.  When we told the students we would not only be visiting the building, but would also be going to the top of it, they were more than thrilled.  I thought it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity for them to visit the building that has been a symbol of NYC for so long. It allowed for several awesome photo opportunities, and an excellent view of the entire city.  We went at night, and the view was breathtaking!  The students, many of whom live in large cities in China, agreed that it was one of the most beautiful city landscapes they’ve ever seen.  The fact that we saw the city lit up at night made it extra special.

Q. The United Nations Audio Tour must have been interesting.  Was this narrated on a mobile device?  If so, how did it enhance the tour? Did students get to see people in the UN at work? I imagine UN sessions are closed to the public, but please describe what you saw and learned in detail.

A. The United Nations tour was interesting, and the students and chaperones were both moved by what they saw.  The work that the UN does in order to provide children and the under-privileged with school and medical supplies is amazing, and unknown to many people.  Many of the students and chaperones were teary-eyed at the end of the tour when they saw the images of the people in need, and how grateful they were for the hard work of the UN.  The fact that the tour was given with the assistance of an audio device was immensely helpful considering that the international students were able to listen in their native language. Unfortunately there were no ambassadors working and nothing in session during our visit.  But we were able to visit the main room in the UN that everyone always sees on television.

Q. How did students like the visit to Central Park?

A. Our trip to Central Park was brief, but a lot of fun. There were still a lot of leaves on the trees, and the weather was comfortable considering the time of year. We stopped at the Alice in Wonderland statute, and got some group photos.  There was a woman playing the guitar and singing beautifully while we were there, which added to the ambiance.

Q. The 911 Memorial is a site most student groups visit.  Why was it important to you to bring the group to this site? Also, what were their reactions?

A. The students were anxious to visit the 911 Memorial because they are all familiar with the importance of that day to Americans.  On 9/11 the entire world was impacted, so the memorial is special for everyone around the globe.  The students were very impressed with the beautiful memorial, and took time to reflect on the tragedy that changed America and the rest of the world forever.  For the most part, the students were reverent and respectful during the visit, and asked the chaperones several questions, which showed they were sincerely interested in learning more about what they were witnessing.

Q. Did you give any post trip writing or oral presentations projects to students?

A. The students were not given any assignments to do for this trip.  They’re very scholarly and have plenty of other homework to do, so we did not require them to do anything on this trip.  Most of them used their free time at the hotel to catch up on the work they were missing while they were out of school.

Q. What was your overall impression of the tour guide and your experience of traveling with your particular tour guides?

A. Our tour guide was excellent!  She knew the city very well and took great care of us during the entire trip. She always had a good attitude, and when we had to make slight changes to our itinerary, she did an outstanding job of getting us all set.  Not only was she knowledgeable about the landmarks and sightseeing hotspots, but very helpful with guiding us through the best traffic routes. Our travel company definitely had the best itinerary, services, and overall plan for our trip to New York City.  Every detail was planned and taken care of.  It was reassuring, and each night at the hotel I slept a little better knowing we had the support of the night time security worker that had been arranged. I can honestly say that I’m thrilled with our experience, and that we plan on taking more trips in the future.

Student travel can help facilitate innovative and imaginative ways to incorporate students into American culture. Itineraries may be designed to accommodate a variety of backgrounds and educational goals, and are by no means limited to American students alone. With a little ingenuity and planning, teachers can create travel tours that can open doors for students and help ease their transition into exciting new academic environments that will open doors for them.

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Student Trip to NYC Opens Up New Horizons for a School Group from Texas

By Howard Clemens

Students from Byron Nelson High School in Texas pose in front of the NYC skyline.

Lori Imrecke, a popular teacher whose approach to her profession is innovative and fun, is an Economics instructor at Byron Nelson High School in Texas. She’s also a sponsor of the school’s Snow, Ski, and Snowboard Club, and an avid proponent and organizer of student travel.

Students Travel From Different Schools

Recently, she took her students on a tour of New York City. “I like to take the kids on trips that expose them to things they wouldn’t normally see,” Imrecke says. “They leave suburban Texas and enter into a whole new world.” This particular excursion was unique because students from other area schools were involved. Imrecke put the word out about the trip, and got a great response from other teachers who wanted their students to be involved. “A lot of the kids didn’t really know each other, so they made a lot of new friends on this trip,” Imrecke says. “There was a lot of great conversation and sharing of individual experiences.”

Students explore the vivid street life in NYC.

Visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC

The group’s objective as a whole was to see as many sites in NYC as possible. “We visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art,” says Imrecke. “I had gone before, but seeing it through the students’ eyes made it a whole new experience for me.” Many of the exhibits correlated with the students’ particular fields of study or interest. “Some of the kids were studying photography,” Imrecke says, “So they were interested in those displays. Others wanted to see the Egyptian exhibit. One student was in a state of culture shock everywhere he went. Everything we saw was amazing to him!”

A Visit to the 911 Memorial

One of the most important visits the group made was to the 9/11 Memorial. “For the kids, it was eye-opening,” Imrecke says. “They all remembered 9/11 happening, but they were too young at the time to really grasp the significance of it. The visit to the site made it real for them.” The tour guide, who had lived in the city at the time, also shared her stories with the group. “One of the students took a photo of the memorial, and it was entered into a contest to be displayed at the Capitol,” Imrecke says.  “It didn’t ultimately make it in to the exhibit, but it was a very powerful experience for her.”

Wall Street, the Federal Reserve Bank and the Statue of Liberty

The group also visited Wall Street, and took the boat over to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. This segment was of particular interest to the American History students. “The cool thing about Ellis Island was that they already had a background knowledge of it,” says Imrecke. “They were in awe of the statue, and seeing it really brought it to life. It was a perfect day.” The group toured NYC’s financial district and the Federal Reserve Bank. “I wanted the students to get some insights on the Federal Reserve and how it works,” says Imrecke. The students had a lot of questions for the tour guide, and appeared to be learning from other students’ questions. “They took us down into the vaults,” says Imrecke. “Getting to see all that gold in one room was astonishing to them.”

Visits to Other Sites of Interest to Student Groups in NYC

The itinerary had a lot of cultural variety. “We spent time in places like Chinatown, and went to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. The museum was a blast! The kids loved it because they could be goofy and take pictures of the wax celebrities. It fed right into their views on pop culture.” The tour also featured a Broadway musical, The Lion King, which was thrilling for the music students in the group. “They found it so fascinating,” Imrecke says. “This was really the number one iconic New York experience I wanted them to have. In fact, it was so great that we’re in the process of working out the logistics of another trip to NYC.”

Imrecke loved watching the students’ faces as they experienced Times Square and other NYC landmarks for the first time. “I wanted the kids to get as comprehensive an idea of NYC as possible, to experience the hustle and bustle of New York,” she said, “and I really feel that was accomplished. It’s a lot of work to organize a tour, but it’s so worth it. I would recommend it to every teacher.”

Education is not what it used to be. No longer does learning need to be confined solely to the classroom. Supplemental curriculum like student travel can open up new horizons and introduce students to a brand new world of interactive learning. When they can experience the world hands-on, their knowledge of subject matter is enriched and expanded.

Request a quote for a student trip to New York City.

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.

High School Orchestra Takes Performance Trip to New York City

Deb Wesoloski has been the Orchestra Director at Berea High School in Berea, Ohio, for 25 years. As an enthusiastic, popular teacher who is passionate about music and loves to introduce her students to new cities and influences, she has always tried to make travel a part of her curriculum. Wesoloski believes education should be hands-on, interactive, and as multifaceted as possible. So, she takes her student musicians on tour every three years.  In March of 2011, the group traveled to New York City, where they had the privilege and thrill of performing at the United Nations headquarters.

Student Trip Includes United Nations Performance
“The UN was by far the best venue we’ve ever played on a tour,” said Wesoloski. “This has been our favorite destination ever! We performed a variety of selections, from standard classics by Tchaikovsky to contemporary/popular favorites like Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida’” and Green Day’s “21 Guns”. We learned our music in nine weeks, or about one school quarter. The students had the opportunity to see new sights and to perform for an audience outside our district, which always brings out very positive reactions. Students were excited that many audience members videotaped our performance.” The whole experience gave students a feeling of ambition and adventure, and gave them a taste of what life as a professional orchestral musician in the big city could be like.


Student Tour Sites in NYC

The group visited a range of New York’s world-famous landmarks: the Empire State Building, NBC Headquarters, Chinatown, Times Square, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They also took a trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty and attended a performance of the Broadway musical “Phantom of the Opera”. The legendary lights of Broadway, the hustle of the big city, and the experience of being up close to the performers was unforgettable. New York worked its magic on the group. “We chose these places because they were all diverse and had cultural and historical points of interest all the students could enjoy and learn about,” said Wesoloski. “New York has something for everybody, and I wanted the students to be able to soak it all up and get as much as they could out of it, which they did,” she added.

Post Trip Wrap Up at School
Upon their return, Wesoloski’s students had extended discussions about their trip, comparing impressions and reliving and reevaluating their adventure through the lens of their new knowledge and experience. Their photos and accounts of the trip were posted in school publications, making the whole enterprise into a multimedia project that could be shared with everyone. Many of the students seemed changed by the experience, increasingly compelled to pursue their dreams and their potential as musicians—which, of course, was exactly what Wesoloski hoped the trip to New York City would inspire.


Having a Tour Guide Who Works Well With Musicians

“Our experience was excellent,” Wesoloski said. “Our tour guide was superb and knew the city inside and out, and made sure set-up of the performance went perfectly smoothly.” The guide had answers to every question they asked, and her expertise and enthusiasm made the whole trip an exciting whirlwind and a pleasure. No stone was left unturned. “It was everything we’d hoped it would be,” said Wesoloski.
Visit www.EducationalTravelConsultants.com to request a quote for a student trip.

Writing Assignments that Complement Class Trips to Washington D.C. and NYC

Educational travel tours headed for Washington D.C. or New York City are an excellent way to stimulate active learning. Visiting historic sites such as the White House and the Capitol in Washington D.C. or taking the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Boat tour in New York City are just the first step in the learning process.

Writing Assignments Help Students Learn about NYC and Washington D.C.
Creating a post trip writing assignment that requires students to assimilate the information learned on a visit to Washington D.C. or New York City is one way to ensure that students have grasped the information conveyed on student tours.

Student tour groups get excited about visiting historic sites and learning about the way the U.S. government is run or the manner in which immigrant families entered the country. Experienced, licensed and knowledgeable tour guides make all the difference in any student tour. In both Washington D.C. and New York City, tour guides must be licensed in order to lead groups around the city. A high quality student tour company will only work with tour guides who are licensed.

Teachers and educational tour planners should contract with student travel companies that have excellent reputations and a long history in working with school groups. Working with an experienced educational travel company will ensure that information conveyed on a tour is in sync with academic standards and learning objectives.

In order to maintain high standards, licensed tour guides in New York City and Washington D.C. are required to pass certification tests which are designed to measure their knowledge of historical and cultural information about the city where they lead student tours. If a tour guide is licensed, then the student travel group is sure to receive accurate historical information about the sites. Another advantage of working with licensed tour guides is their ability to accurately answer questions from student travelers about historical sites.

In addition to selecting a qualified educational travel company that employs licensed tour guides, creating a post trip assignment related to one or more of the destinations on the itinerary are an effective way to help students process the event.

Here are some brief ideas for writing assignments that may follow a class trip to Washington D.C. or New York City. Teachers will want to give students the details of these assignments before the tour, so they can take notes while they visit these sites. These writing exercises are designed for the high school classroom. Teachers should feel free to modify the assignments for specific learning and curriculum objectives.

Washington D.C. Writing Assignment Idea After a Visit to the Capitol

Instruct students to write a 500-750 word essay about their visit to the U.S. Capitol. Highlight three observations that stood out on your visit to the Capitol. What did you learn about American democracy that you did not know before your visit? Explain in detail. Describe any of the representatives, pages, aides or people that you may have met or seen on your visit. What are their functions in the democratic process?

Writing Exercise Idea Following a Tour of the White House:
Ask students to write a 500-750 word essay about their trip to the White House.
On your visit to the White House, which room were you drawn to the most, and why? Describe in detail the furnishings, art, and function of this room. How does this room play a role in diplomatic or political relations? Why is this particular room of the White House important and included on the tour?

New York City Writing Assignment to Follow a Boat Tour of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty
Write a 500-750 word essay that brings together at least eight different facts about the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. In your own words, describe why these two significant New York City landmarks are pivotal places in American history.

These writing assignment ideas are designed to inspire students to look and listen closely while on tour. They are specifically designed for high school educational tour groups visiting Washington D.C. or New York City. For more information about scheduling a student tour (with a licensed tour guide) for either destination or any U.S. city, visit The Request a Quote page and take a few minutes to fill out the form, or email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com.