When I think of the Lufkin ISD mission to provide exceptional learning experiences for our students, the 10th-grade Gifted and Talented Integrated Studies Program trip to New York City immediately comes to mind.
It is a learning experience like no other, and it has been my honor to accompany the students on this trip for the past 14 consecutive years as a chaperone.
The group leaves Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport Thursday, arriving in New York right after noon.
We always discover that some of the students have never flown before and most have never been to New York City. We will mostly walk, but we’ll also take the New York City subway, an experience all unto itself.
We’ll hit the New York Public Library, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Rockefeller Center, Top of the Rock, Times Square, and then dinner.
My favorite part of the first day is the students seeing what living in a crowded city such as New York is really like with the tall buildings, the traffic, how people immediately look strangely when they hear a whole group of Texas accents, and just the normal bustle of the city.
Students in this class are preparing to take the Advanced Placement tests in World History AP and Art History AP this spring. Nothing quite prepares you for the test like seeing the artwork that will be on the AP test up close and personal.
Students have to know the artist, the genre, the meaning of the work and the importance of the work in that time period. Many times we will have patrons listening in as our students explain the work. Even the guides and guards comment that our students could practically give their own tours.
It might also be mentioned that our students’ scores on these two AP tests exceed the global average. This means that our students are competitive, not just with the state and national scores, but with the world. Not bad, Lufkin ISD!
We will travel to Grand Central Station for lunch, experience its whispering hall, and see the beautiful architecture of the station.
Weather permitting, we will walk and take the subway to Washington Square. This park is known for its beautiful arch and the occasional celebrity sightings. One year we met Alec Baldwin walking in the park with his wife and kids.
From Washington Square a required stop is always the Strand Bookstore. Few of our students have ever experienced an old six-story bookstore.
Our hotel is in the heart of Times Square, so we will see and guess what it must be like to be there on New Year’s Eve. This year our Broadway show choice is ‘‘Beetlejuice.’’ One year, the president of the United States was in the audience with us during a show starring Denzel Washington.
The Museum of Modern Art gives us a change of pace in the art world, as we move from the classics to the more abstract representations of art.
Chelsea Market for lunch puts you in touch with the current food scene and proximity to the Food Network. Chinatown/Little Italy for dessert and some shopping is not to be missed. The Brooklyn Bridge is an iconic New York City site and students are able to walk half of it and see the harbor.
A quick walk follows to Trinity Church, Wall Street, the Wall Street Bull and then to the Staten Island Ferry, where we will take the ferry across the river and back in order to see the Statue of Liberty.
On our last morning we will take the subway to the 9/11 Museum. What strikes me every year is that these students were not even born when 9/11 happened, but their lives were changed forever by what happened that day.
There’s nothing quite like experiencing the city firsthand with students who can apply the knowledge they’ve learned in the classroom.
Our advanced academics programs are truly exceptional. To find out more about our GT program, call Alison Hillis at 630-4295. She would be happy to tell you about the engaging and challenging activities in the GT program for each grade.
The New York trip is made possible by the generous donation from the E.L. Kurth Jr. Foundation.