Spring break’s in Italy this year | VailDaily.com

Spring break’s in Italy this year

Connie Steiert

GYPSUM – A group of Eagle Valley High School students will head somewhere warm and dreamy this spring break, but their daydreams are filled with visions of culture, art and history – not lounging on the beach.Who are these students? They are Eagle Valley High School teacher Jennifer Wright’s honors English students, past and present. This isn’t a required trip dreamed up by teacher and parents to keep their children’s academics on track over vacation. These students asked Wright to take them abroad, and they chose Italy as the place they most wanted to visit. This trip across the Atlantic Ocean to Rome, Florence and Venice is entirely voluntary- not school sponsored – and being undertaken, mostly … just for the fun of it.”It’s just a teacher taking students – no rhyme or reason. The kids wanted to do it,” Wright said.Get some gelatoAlthough teacher and students are hoping to come home with a greater understanding of diverse cultures and history from their sightseeing trips, they are also looking forward to all the perks of travel to far-flung places: Shopping, eating at fabulous Italian restaurants, staying up late at night at landmark hotels, and having fun. “It’s a lifetime experience,” said Mariah Scott, the only senior in the bunch. “It’s the last time I get to spend with my junior friends.”

For Yolanda Rosales, a trip to Italy is an opportunity to experience different lifestyles and how other people live, she said. “It’s a chance to see what’s it’s like,” she said. And Lakotah Doig said she can’t wait to try some typical Italian treats. “I want to get some gelato,” she said, laughing.When the group of 18 honors English students embarks on a nonstop flight from Denver to London, and then on to Rome on March 27, they will begin a whirlwind tour at a jam-packed pace, beginning most days at 7 a.m., and lasting until well into the evening. The students chose the itinerary out of several offered by the educational tour company, Explorica. Callahan Ketterling said he and the other students chose this schedule because it seemed to offer the best sightseeing options.Often in aweThe tour will began in Florence, visiting the Gates of Paradise, Giotto’s bell tower and the Palazzo Vecchio. Then, the students will move to Venice, and check out the Romeo and Juliet balcony, St. Mark’s Square and the Basilica. From there, it’s on to the St. Francis’ Basilica in Rome, the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain. A second day in Rome will find these young men and women visiting the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Coliseum, and the Forum Romanum, before returning home on April 3.”I’ve always wanted to go to Italy,” Haley Didier said.”It’s a learning experience,” added Chelsea Hednick. “It’s a good chance to share something like this with friends and with our favorite teacher, Ms. Wright.”

This is the third year Wright has shepherded a group of students overseas. The first year, she took a group to London. Last year, she and students jaunted to Paris.The idea for ushering students abroad first came up when Wright was still teaching in Bartlesville, Okla. A friend and fellow teacher shared Wright’s passion for traveling, and the two wanted to share that passion with students, she said. Fourteen students jumped at the chance.”They become kind of engulfed in the culture. They are in awe of a lot of things,” Wright said about students she has traveled with in past years. “They see things in person they have watched on TV or read about that become special to them.”Wright, who travels extensively on her own each summer, values her travels with students – she loves to see their excitement, how much fun they have and the friendships that form, she said.Dante’s inspirationBecause taking 18 students across the globe for a week is no small task, Wright invites students she has grown to know well over the past year or more, and with whom she has a strong rapport, she said. She has had this particular group for three years, in both freshman and sophomore honors English, as well as in junior honors English this year.”I’m pretty close with my students. We have a really good relationship,” said Wright, also coaches the cheerleading squad.

Because Wright likes to keep a five-students-to-one-adult ratio, she recruited adult chaperones. Susan Scott, a former Eagle Valley High teacher and Mariah’s mother, is one of the four chaperones who will accompany the group abroad. “I taught here for many years,” Scott said. “I thought it would be an important experience to share with my daughter senior year.” It was last year’s honors English study of Dante’s “Inferno,” and how Italy and the time period influenced his work, that sparked many of these students’ interest in the country.”Last year, as sophomores, we were learning stuff about (Italy) and it really sounded so interesting,” Rosales said. While the group is in Florence, they will visit Dante’s house.The students will pay their own travel expenses, and they have been busy manning concession booths at high school games selling donuts, baked goods and Christmas trees to raise money for the trip. They also worked behind the scenes on the “Christmas on Broadway” production.”It’s hard,” Morgan Strakbein said. “You don’t make very much.”But, said Caleb Glass, “It’s totally worth it, to see something like this.”Vail, Colorado

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