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The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

Reading Initiative brings close to a hundred students on an overnight trip to tour New England literary history

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Adam Saya
The Reading Initiative hosts a trip to Massachusetts
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Last month, the Townsend Harris Reading Initiative hosted its annual spring overnight trip to Massachusetts, offering students an opportunity to celebrate the work they have accomplished so far, whilst engaging in a “literary tour” of the state. With excursions in Salem and Concord, the two night long trip culminated in a visit to Six-Flags, New England. The trip was open to all students. Four students from the leading grade in the Initiative’s reading challenge were awarded free spots on the trip.

On the trip, students were taken to sites such as Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House and Walden Pond, and were given multiple opportunities to explore aspects of the cities of Salem and Concord to uncover the rich history behind them.

THHS Librarian and lead trip organizer Arlene Laverde said, “The history of the sites left me in awe. Learning how much history spread throughout Salem was not only horrifying, it was fascinating. We went to Walden Pond […] and the breath-taking beauty of the pond and woods was refreshing.”

The trip was also organized by Classic advisor and English teacher Brian Sweeney.

Originally, the plan was to bring around 45 students, but they opened up double the spots due to demand, according to Mr. Sweeney. He said “We were not planning to have 96 students. My biggest concern was making sure everyone was safe and taken care of, and I think there were no major issues. Behaviorwise, people were generally very good and made the trip run smoothly.”

Freshman Divina Mogro described the trip as “incredible.” She said that “[we] had an ample amount of freedom, fair rules, and reasonable chaperones.”

Senior Hasan Raza also said that he “thoroughly enjoyed the sights because of how grounded they are in history.”

“The places we visited were wonderful, because they were something you don’t see daily,” said Divina. “It was good to be away from the city.”

While most students appreciated the visit to Six-Flags New England at the end of the trip, some individuals communicated concern about the limited time given to spend at the park and prices. Divina said that though she liked having the opportunity to go to the park, “it was not fun because I only got to go on one ride, and I paid for three hours at the park, not an hour and forty-five minutes.”

“We were expected to buy overpriced food at the amusement park rather than make a short stop along the way back to the school for food, which I found to be very unreasonable,” she added.

“This was the first time [Ms. Laverde and I] were doing this version of the trip. I’ve been to these places before, but not with so many students,” said Mr. Sweeney. He added that in the future he can better figure out how to manage time, and organize who goes where.

Some faculty members present on trip felt it was an incredible opportunity for them to learn about their students, outside of an academic setting. Chaperone and English/ISS Teacher Katherine Gelbman said, “It’s always fun to get to know the THHS students outside of the classroom environment. Everyone on the trip was interested in seeing the sites, exploring new places and learning from new experiences.”

Chaperone and Humanities teacher Sarah Levine said her favorite thing about chaperoning on the trip was how excited the kids on the trip were to be visiting these places. “I grew up near Salem, MA and it was a joy to see a familiar place through their eyes,” said Ms. Levine.

Many students who found the trip successful, expressed anticipation for the initiative’s trips in the future. “The trip really is something I’ve looked forward to since I went on the reading initiative trip last year, and this year’s trip only heightened expectations for the coming years,” said Hasan.

“Overall, I think the trip was very well organized,” said Ms. Laverde. “The chaperones were great, and the students were pretty well behaved. We had a good mix of grades; it was a trip for everyone.”

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