Woodstock Wolverines Take Europe

Alexa R.

Staff Writer

Every year a group of Woodstock teachers takes some students on a tour to different countries, mainly to WWII sites. This year over spring break, Mr. Josh Sailers, Dr. Krista Webb, Dr. Derek Engram, Ms. Lana O’Briant, and Ms. Laura Cox were able to take 36 students to visit 11 cities in 4 countries in Europe. Flying to England, crossing the English Channel to France, riding a bus to Belgium, and taking a train to Germany, the students and teachers made their way across the European continent and had a trip of a lifetime.

The first of the stops was London, England. The students and teachers flew into Heathrow on a direct flight overnight and immediately started their day when they landed at 10 a.m. Staying at a hotel in Sunbury, the group took the train into London each day. The first day they went into town they saw the London Eye (the giant ferris wheel on the Thames), Big Ben, and the Thames River. Then, they ate dinner in Trafalgar Square, which is the center of town, and afterwards, everyone walked to the subway to take a night boat ride down the Thames. The next day everyone went to the same area and saw the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace and then went to Winston Churchill’s war rooms. Sean Riley, junior, elaborates by saying, “The changing of the guards was such a cool experience. I loved seeing where the queen lives and the type of military uniforms that the guards wear.” Next, the group was taken on a guided bus tour around the city to see majeurope 3aor places in the city without having to walk everywhere. Ending the tour at the British Museum, the students were able to see the Rosetta Stone and then walk to St. Paul’s Cathedral, which is a symbol of hope throughout the city of London. The night closed with a Jack the Ripper tour about the man who committed murders around the streets of London.

Along the way, the second stop was to Normandy, France. The students first visited a WWII museum in Caen and then took a bus to the beaches of Normandy where they saw firing spots of the Germans. They ate a picnic on the coast overlooking the beautiful, steep shoreline. After seeing the beach at Pont du Hac, the group drove to Omaha Beach and visited the memorial there. The last place they went in Normandy was to the cemetery for American soldiers. Senior Lauren Nielly said, “The cemetery was one of my favorite places we visited just because of how moving it was to see the amount of people who lost their lives fighting in that war. Not only was it moving, but it was beautiful too.” Normandy proved to be a place full of history for these students.

After exploring Normandy, the group set out for Paris, stopping in Ruen to see the Joan of Arc monument and a cathedral in the town. Immediately after arriving in Paris, the travelers took the train into the city where they saw Notre Dame and then to a river tour down the Siene River to see all the different bridges that were important to the history of Paris as well as historic buildings along the water. The next day, everyone went back into the city to see the entire city on a bus tour. They got to shop at the Latin Quarter and the Triangle d’Or, home to some of the most high-end fashion stores in the world, such as Hermes, Louis Vuitton, and Tiffany’s. After that, the students were able to visit either the Louvre or the Musee de Orsay, which includes the Mona Lisa and paintings by Van Gogh. Then came the event that everyone had been anticipating: the Eiffel Tower. The travelers climbed up three levels to the top of the Eiffel Tower where they were able to see the entire city from above. Senior Esteban Suarez says, “This was the most amazing experience of my life. It was so beautiful, and I could not put it into words if I tried.” The last place they went was to Mount Mart, which includes a church, where they also were able to see the entire city from a hill, as well as view many artists and musicians. Overall, Paris was one of the favorite cities visited by the group.

After leaving Paris, the students and teachers were on their way to Belgium. On the way, they stopped in Bastogne (including a war memorial), which is a very Americanized city because of all Americans there during WWII. After Bastogne, the group travelled to Liege where they spent the night before going to see another American cemetery the following day. This cemetery was in Belgium because the Belgians wanted to thank the Americans for their services in WWII. Mr. Sailers said, “Our tour guide there was one of the best because of all he shared with us about the people buried there. He was also so grateful for everything Americans had done for his country’s freedom.” Even though the students spent the least amount of time here, they still made some good memories.

Germany waseurope 2a the next and final stop for the travelers. They stopped in Accam to see a cathedral and then in Cologne to shop in the town and catch the train. The train then took the students and chaperones to Berlin. The students’ day in Berlin consisted of a guided bus tour where they saw the Brandenburg Gate, which is where the Nazi Party used to hold rallies; the Holocaust memorial; and the location of Hitler’s Bunker. They visited the Checkpoint Charlie museum, which included many artifacts from WWII, and were given the rest of the day to go on their own and explore the city. Some students rented bikes to see the city from a different perspective. Senior Nicole Agner said, “My friends and I rode bikes around the city. We got lost for a little bit but eventually found our way back, but we got to see more of the city since we got lost.” Others visited another museum, the Stazi Museum, which included the security of the concentration camps. At the end of the day, the students and teachers went to a park to enjoy the last night of their trip.

All the different cultures and all the different sights on the trip taught the students valuable lessons of life. Ms. Cox said, “Being able to take these students to learn about the soldiers who fought for their freedom was such a humbling experience. I know they learned a lot and hope they took knowledge back with them.” They will learn these stories and be able to pass on the different stories to their kids and so on. Although they may have found it boring at times, visiting all the cemeteries, I think they all took something from it.” These students and teachers had a memorable experience that can never be forgotten. Next year, the group will be going to Greece and Italy with some of the same teachers. That trip will definitely be another trip of a lifetime.

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