Woodstock Goes International

Paige M.

Managing Editor

While lecturing in a classroom is beneficial to students and does its job in educating, traveling abroad and taking international trips prove to be one of the most successful ways to gain knowledge of the world and learn in ways that are not possible in a traditional classroom setting. Woodstock High School teachers and administrators, in their desire to encourage studentswoodstock goes international 2 and provide opportunities, are following this educational approach. Experiencing new cultures, making new friends, and traveling to see the history of another country is priceless and cannot be replaced by any other form of learning.

Woodstock High School is involved with Education First (EF), a program that allows students and teachers to travel to foreign places. In the past, WHS students and teachers have travelled to many countries including Greece, Italy, and Costa Rica. This past February Mr. Dan Page, social studies teacher, accompanied a group of students to Costa Rica to explore the rich culture and tropical foods of the country. The students went zip lining and horseback riding, and they visited a volcano and participated in a number of nature walks. Jordan Gaines, a junior who went on the trip, said, “I fell in love with Costa Rica, and I learned so much!” Mr. Page understands the students’ enthusiasm about exploring new places and says, “Living in a global society allows these trips to happen and allows students to better understand the aspects of other cultures that benefit us.” This was Mr. Page’s second EF trip to Costa Rica, a place he hopes to visit again.

Along with these trips to Costa Rica, social studies teachers Dr. Krista Webb and Mr. Josh Sailors have been taking kids to Europe through the same company for a number of years now. This is a popular trip due to a common interest in the European continent, and many enjoy the sights of the Coliseum in Italy along with a number of other artifacts known worldwide. This year during spring break Dr. Webb and Mr. Sailors orchestrated a trip, accompanied by teachers Mrs. Jean Sellers, Ms. Lana O’Briant, and Ms. Kellie Mason, to take a group of kids to Italy and Greece. Olivia Hughes, a junior who attended this trip, said, “Going to Europe was the best experience ever. I am so excited I did something out of the ordinary on spring break rather than just going to Florida like I always do.” Next spring break, 2016, Mr. Sailors and Dr. Webb are bringing another group to a new place not yet traveled to by Woodstock High School: Eastern Europe, including Budapest, Prague, and many other locations. Going to these interesting and historically-rich places with history teachers who enjoy and understand the meaning of what they are seeing allows what students have learned to come alive. EF provides tourist attraction visits, transportation, and a 24/7 tour guide. WHS teachers encourage students to join in on these trips because it helps students to gain insight on different cultures, see how people socially interact in different places, undergo firsthand experiences that have only been learned about in the traditional textbook, and complete the puzzle to find information that was missing before.

Along with these international trips, WHS students have also gotten the chance to experience other cultures in our very own school. Mr. Page has been in contact with a school in Germany for the past year, and recently two teachers and sixteen students came to WHS to visit. Each German student paired with a WHS sponsor student, allowing them to follow around that student all day and experience the school system in another country. They stayed for a week and enjoyed nearby outings to places like the CNN Center. They even stopped by Washington D.C. on their way to Georgia to get the full experience of the country. Emma Shaw, a junior and a sponsor student, said, “I thought it was really cool having kids our own age come from a different country. It was really fun to see differences between Germany and the United States and get to know everybody by asking them questions and spending time with them!” After their successful visit, Mr. Page said, “Sailors and I have been thinking about going there next year to do the same thing. Munich would be a fun place to travel.” These possible plans would allow students to not only experience the country, but experience how other people learn in the school system of a different location. This is a fantastic and innovative way to build on a foreign exchange program and to create an annual trip from it.

Along with foreign exchange programs and educational trips, Woodstock High School band students recently had the once in a lifetime experience of traveling to Ireland for their musical capabilities. The band was invited to perform in the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin, a huge honor to those attending as well as to those involved in directing the program. This parade is equivalent to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the United States; therefore, it was no small deal when invited. Woodstock’s promise in musical talent and their strong will to put in endless amounts of practice, time, and effort, allowed this talented group to score such an opportunity. Emma Dixon, a junior who attended the trip as well as a clarinet player for the band, said, “Ireland was so much fun. I was so excited leading up to it.” Maddie Cantrall and Bryce Bergman, also juniors, agree with her enthusiasm. While missing a whole week of school was a disadvantage, it was nothing compared to the opportunity that fell into these kids’ laps. Not even make-up work could sway them. Woodstock High School is honored by their band and proud to have had such an accomplishment throughout the school.

Woodstock’s booming involvement into international travel and educational trips has brought learning to a whole new realm. It is now not just boring and drowning, but exciting and adventurous. Traveling adds color to an education; therefore, Woodstock is on the path to becoming stronger than most schools in that category. This new and exciting way of learning is opening doors to new and interesting aspects of learning never thought of before now.

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