This year the Educational class at Andrews Academy toured several southern states including Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Kentucky. The students were told in advance the places they were going to visit, which gave them the opportunity to research the various sites for the upcoming tour. On Friday, April 22nd, at the crack of dawn, thirty-one Educational tour participants headed out to the southern states for a week to learn about the rich history which the South holds.
The first state the students visited was Georgia. They spent the first three days in Atlanta touring the famous sites of the city. On the first day, they visited the Georgia Aquarium, which is the largest aquarium in the western hemisphere. At the Georgia Aquarium they saw many kinds of fish, dolphins, penguins, seals, otters, sharks and many other of God’s creatures. Andrews Academy student Nick Hutchings said, “My favorite thing was the Georgia Aquarium because I loved seeing the creatures that I have never seen before.”
Then the tour group continued on to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site, which includes the Ebenezer Baptist church, where Dr. King had previously been one of the church pastors, and the Civil Rights museum. They also saw Dr. King’s and his wife Coretta’s tombstone. When they were done with visiting the King Center site, the students sat on the lawn and reflected on what they had just experienced.
“I enjoyed the MLK exhibit. If it wasn’t for the sacrifices of the people in the Civil Rights movement,” said Victoria Carmona, “we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
The historic site held meaning for many besides Victoria. Mr. David Sherman said, “Every time, I visit it’s still as remarkable as the first. It is amazing how far we have come. And just seeing this is a great reminder of the love and diversity we share here.”
The group concluded the day with the Atlanta Zoo. Some of the animals they saw were elephants, giraffes, lions and many other animals. There was a train which gave a tour of some of the animals at the zoo park. “I enjoyed seeing the pandas,” says Emman Saint-Phard.
On Sunday morning, the second day of the tour, students toured CNN to see how broadcasting takes place. Jessica Grzybowski said, “I thoroughly enjoyed the CNN tour, getting to see the behind the scenes of what really happens and how much work it takes to broadcast the show on the air.”
After visiting CNN, the tour departed for the World of Coca-Cola Museum. Each student received a free coke as a gift when they entered the company. There were many different stations such as 4D-theater, the vault containing Coke’s secret recipe, and everyone’s favorite Taste it, where students could taste different kinds of Coke flavors from all over the world.
In the afternoon, the group attended a Major League Baseball game at Turner Field. The Atlanta Braves, who are in their last year of playing at Turner Field, faced off against the New York Mets. Fans did the “tomahawk chop” every time the Braves did well, which was fun. Alex Baltazar said, “Turner Field was great, and I really enjoyed being in the atmosphere.”
Before departing Atlanta, the group visited the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum on Monday. There they learned about the many accomplishments of President Carter and what he contributed to this country.
Later, in Macon, GA, they stopped at the Ocmulgee National Monument to view an Indian ceremonial and burial mound. Soon after that they reached Savanah, GA, where the students had free time to roam and to sight-see at the different shops and restaurants on River Street. This historical street was a bustling seaport that housed most of the cotton and tobacco grown in the South as it was sold and shipped out to all parts of the world. Some students and sponsors stopped Vinnie Van Go Go’s, a famous pizzeria where once slice of pizza is bigger than the whole plate.
The next day, participants went on to the Savannah History Museum and took a tour ride on the trolley which took them to historic homes, churches, and cemeteries that were part of the making of this country. The hometown tour guide was very informative and amusing through humorous tales and fun facts.
“The trolley tour was my favorite. Downtown had so many historic homes, schools, hospitals and many other places. I didn’t know that Savannah held so much history,” said Alia Pellegrini.
Arriving in the beautiful state of South Carolina, the students toured Boone Hall Plantation, one of America’s oldest working, living plantations. There students heard a skit performed by a third-generation Gullah woman, whose grandmother grew up and worked nearby. Her rousing stories and songs brought to life the slaves’ experience on the plantation. Students then saw and crowded into a brick slave cabin that would have housed four families during the height of the plantation. Cotton was a main crop on the plantation, so the students were able to touch and pick cotton. In more recent times, Boone Hall has been the site of many weddings like Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds and motion films such as the Notebook.
South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union and, as such, is filled with historic Civil War sites and artifacts. The Hunley, which was the first combat submarine to sink a warship, was the next stop. Beyond just seeing the submarine, students learned that there are many theories about what actually happened, although no one really knows for sure.
Later in the day, tour participants got to shop and eat downtown in Charleston, trying their different traditional foods that they offer in the historic district and shopping at the city-market.
After those adventures, the tour group headed over to Patriot’s Point Naval & Maritime Museum, where they got a chance to see and tour USS Laffey, a destroyer, USS Yorktown, an aircraft carrier, and USS Clamagore, a submarine. The museum recreated each place to what it would’ve been like then. “Patriot’s Point was my favorite. It was cool to see each thing, especially since I’m going to be in the Navy,” said Ryan Mutz.
Afterwards, the group took a ferry to Fort Sumter where the confederate army fired the first official shot of the civil war. And since that was the last tour of the day of Fort Sumter, students got to help by lowering the American flag and folding it. “It was a very humbling and morbid experience knowing that right where we were standing was the spark that led 600,000 Americans to their deaths, yet a very patriotic experience because without their sacrifice, America would not be what it is today,” stated Jacob Mondak.
One of the favorite places the students visited was the Biltmore Estate located in Asheville, North Carolina, which was built by the Vanderbilt family from 1888-1895. It is said that you could fit three White Houses within the site. It is considered to be the largest home in the United States.
Justin Fraser shared, “I loved the Biltmore Estate. It was crazy to see how rich they were and one day I hope to have a castle like that.”
“Fashionable Romance: Wedding Gowns in Film” was featuring wedding fashion from 19 classic movies set in the years 1645 to 1935, including three films based on the popular Jane Austen novels: Sense and Sensibility, Emma and Pride and Prejudice.
Katie Kurtz said, “I enjoyed the Biltmore the most. I love seeing the designs inside and outside of the house.”
The last attraction was the Slugger Museum located in Louisville, Kentucky. Many baseball and softball bats are made at this location. As the supplier for MLB, the factory has outfitted such greats as Derek Jeter and Jackie Robinson, to name a few. The museum highlighted not only the history of the baseball bats but the history of baseball.
This well-planned trip was filled with so many fun, educational, and inspiring places to see and experience. It also helped that the weather was nice and warm. Everyone on the trip came back with something that they didn’t know before. If you have an opportunity to go on Education Tour, I recommend it. The next tour will take place in 2017-2018, and the group will be traveling to England.