School News

Stateside Adventure

A party of twenty-five Birkdale students travelled to New York and Washington over the Easter holiday. The trip was focused on introducing students to American culture - whilst also focusing on historical and art insights. Over the first three days a full programme was undertaken in New York City and on the fourth day the group travelled by interstate coach to Washington. This was a simply fantastic trip and much enjoyed by everyone on it. The hope will be to repeat this Stateside venture in the future. Click on the title to read a full review. 

Written by Harry Clay (U6)

After an arguably excessive amount of travelling, queueing and waiting, we arrived by coach to the Roosevelt Hotel. Opened in 1924, the lobby alone was in keeping with the glamour and glitz of the roaring 20’s. The next stop after checking in was to head straight to Times Square, of which no picture or film can accurately encapsulate. After eating at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, some of the group visited Grand Central Station, situated only a short distance from the hotel. Unknown to many, the Station and the Roosevelt were once connected by underground tunnel, however we were forced to take the sidewalk.

Each morning gave a brief walk to the Morningstar Café, no doubt in order to help us wake up before breakfast. Although our group filled much of the café, it served a range of traditional American style breakfasts, often involving bacon. We then took the subway to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or simply the Met. Home to a diverse array of exhibits and displays, such as the extensive Medieval Arms gallery or its modern art; the Met hosted the famous shark in formaldehyde. Following was a brief walk through central park to Strawberry Fields and the memorial for John Lennon. On a less sombre note, we then took a visit to 5th Avenue, an opportunity for us to do some shopping on Bloomingdales, or as a few select students did, take a visit to Trump Tower, before vising the Empire State Building. On a clear day, it is possible to see around 80 miles from the 102nd floor observation deck.

After the same breakfast routine, the group visited the United Nations building for a brief tour. Home to all manner of committees and panels we were guided through general assembly, and although it wasn’t sitting at the time, it was evident that this was a place of serious international politics. Following this, we stopped for lunch in Grand Central Station, and walked to take the Semi Circle Line Cruise boat, giving a totally different view of New York. From the Hudson and the East rivers, the skyline of the city can be seen. Following our river tour of the city, we visited the memorial for the September 11th attacks. Although a trip for leisure, seeing countless names engraved in the centre of a city gave us all to think about, as did the two readings given by students. On a lighter note, we then took a short walk to the Red Egg restaurant, which served as a useful break, before a number of students visited the Brooklyn Bridge by night, showing an unparalleled view of the lights and sounds of the city.

After enjoying our final breakfast at the Morningstar Café, we all returned to the Hotel Roosevelt for the last time, and after packing, we left by coach to Washington DC.

Arriving in the federal district, we were promptly taken on a walk through to the National Mall and into the National Museum of Natural History. The Museum of Natural History houses a wide collection of different exhibitions, such as the Hope Diamond, or the National Fossil Hall. Following the visit here, and a brief spell of rain to walk through, we dined in the Hard Rock Café DC. Famous around the world, the Café in Washington is home to Rock ‘n’ Roll memorabilia, as well as a bright and enthusiastic group of staff, who perhaps became too entranced in the music at times.

The next day began with an opportunity to visit the National Archives. Within was kept the Constitution of the United States, as well as the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence, all documents which formed the great country we were visiting. Following this, all light-hearted tones dropped away as we paid visit to the Holocaust Memorial Museum. Outside of Israel and the concentration camps themselves, there are few greater tributes and reminders of the darkest event in human history. Every one of us was deeply moved by the touching personal stories we were told. We were then given the opportunity to further explore the Smithsonian complex, with everyone paying visit to the most visited museum in the world, the National Air and Space museum.

The following day began with a morning walking tour of the monuments of Washington, beginning outside the White House, and passing the Washington monument, the Second World War Memorial, the Vietnam and Korean War Memorials and the Lincoln Memorial. Walking around the tidal basin of the Potomac River, the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. A gift from Japan, they are a charming touch to an already scenic area. Around the basin we passed the memorials of Martin Luther King Jr, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson, three of the most influential men in the shaping of America. Our afternoon was occupied with another opportunity to explore some other culture Washington has to offer, such as the National Gallery of Art, or the newly built African American museum. Finally, we dined at Ben’s Chilli Bowl, an unassuming looking restaurant with a rich history.

On our last day in DC, we took a guided visit around Capitol Hill, home of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Filled with antiquity, our enthusiastic tour guide explained how both the building, and its place in the city came to be, as well as showing the large collection of statues dedicated to the famous and bold of each state. Passing the Supreme Court, we finally visited Union Station, an important landmark in Washington, before heading back to the Hotel, and as a final point, departing to Dulles airport to fly back to the UK.

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