Monday, April 23, 2007

Rosemont Day 3 - Rochester, Seneca Falls, Dinner Theatre & Hotel Utica

We were all anxious about the weather reports, but having been a veteran of New York State weather, I wasn't very concerned, although I was working on a, 'worst case scenario'.

We checked out of the hotel and the two buses proceeded to Rochester to visit the Susan B. Anthony House and Mount Hope Cemetery where we would lay a wreath at the graves of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass.

The first bus visited the home while the second visited the cemetery and then we reversed the visits.

Paula Savage of the Greater Rochester Visitor Association, Inc. was particularly generous by offering not only goodies including three 'coffee table' books about Rochester , but the services of Dr. Anderson, an expert on Frederick Douglass who was to accompany each bus to Mr. Douglass' grave. Her colleague met us at the house to present these.

The wreaths were beautiful and the colors were chosen in honor of Women's Suffrage, and Rosemont's school colors of blue and gold. We decided on silk rather than fresh to withstand the cold weather.

The docents at the Susan B. Anthony House were extremely gracious and informative. Their gift shop is superb.

Joan Hunt of the Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery guided us around to the Anthony family plot, it was also near the graves of Bausch and Lomb, but you needed glasses or contacts to see it!

We then traveled to Victor for our lunch at the Eastview Mall. We were greeted by Ms. Schmitt, from the Finger Lakes Region who gave us cookies in the shape of New York State and had our location indicated on the icing! New York apples were also available. The manager of Tom Wahl's also met us and gave the group 2 for 1 cheeseburger coupons. (I received an official Tom Wahl's cap.) His staff were friendly and efficient. The hospitality was outstanding! I should also tell you that the burgers and rootbeer were great!

Then onto Seneca Falls for a National Park Ranger-led walking tour of the Women's Rights National Park. There was an hysterical film on women's rights at the visitors' center. We had a glimpse of the Cayuga and Seneca Canal, which is an off-shoot of the Erie Canal. (I wasn't able to take photos because Larry, my bus driver, and I had to get some water for the group.)

The on to Beck's Grove Dinner Theatre near Rome, NY. We were given private performance of their Songs of the Erie Canal. Each time I looked over at Mr. C-C during the show, she was scribbling notes on her placemat! There was a great deal of information woven into the show.

After that, we ended our day at the Hotel Utica. Everyone loved it! They had cookies and punch for us upon our arrival. Many famous people had stayed at the hotel during its colorful history. It has been restored beautifully and the staff was wonderful!

It started to sleet as we unloaded our luggage!

Rosemont Day 2 Niagara, Wheatfield, Lewiston, Buffalo

We visited the New York Power Authority's Power Vista named in honor of New York's master planner, Robert Moses. We learned about the generation of power and electricity.

After viewing the falls and the Niagara River from Three Sisters Island, we headed for lunch hosted by Summit Mall. Peter Green, of Summit Mall, had been one of our guides and arranged for the lunch and a meeting with Wheatfield Town Supervisor, Mr. Timothy Demler. Mr. Demler generously gave his time to answer questions and gave out pins to each of us. Naturally, the lunch included Buffalo Wings!

Summit Mall also had a large mural in tribute to our troops depicting all branches of the military. In addition they had a box for prayers which interested several students.

After lunch, we embarked on am Underground Railroad tour/ The outside reenactment was canceled due to the cold and icy weather, but there was one reenactor at the Michigan Street Baptist Church in Buffalo. We learned about Harriet Tubman and Freedom Crossing at the Whirlpool Bridge as well as had the opportunity to see the hiding place for runaway slaves under the stairs of the church, which had served as a 'station'.

We had supper at Old Country Buffet and had time for shopping, photos of the illuminated Falls, and swimming.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Rosemont Day 2 :1 - Niagara Photos

The photos above were taken first thing in the morning of the second day.

It was cold, but not as cold as the previous day.

I managed to get the students to the middle of Rainbow Bridge within 10 feet of the Canadian Border so they could get the best view of the falls.

We also visited Three Sisters Island off Goat Island in the Niagara River before the falls to obtain our water.

There was a great deal of ice floating down the river and over the falls.

The photos covering lunch and the Underground Railroad are on the next post.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Failed Experiment: The Trials, Tribulations, and Terrific Teens on Tour

The best laid plans of mice and men...

It had been suggested that parents and other interested parties would like to follow the trip through a website; all we needed was a laptop and a way to download the photos.

Sounded reasonable.

Well it ain't that easy!

Since I did not have a laptop, I was using someone else's and it was difficult to coordinate a time when we both could be free from our official duties to sit down and post. It became impossible at a couple of hotels where there didn't seem to be any signal or it was slower than molasses dripping in a blizzard.

Then there were some late nights due to weather delays and two theatre productions (Songs of the Erie Canal and Mary Poppins)

By the time we rolled into the hotel, and completed the room checks etc. , we were too pooped to post!

However, the students were troopers and had a blast; they were truly an inspiration. The ones on my bus were almost angelic - really! (I LOVED them!)

Naturally the recent tragic events at Virginia Tech were sobering and also lead to the cancellation of our appearance on the CBS Morning Show. (All the morning shows in New York canceled their outdoor activities, out of respect).

Even the Statue of Liberty was closed down!

But we soldiered on!

So I'll be spending part of the weekend downloading photos with a bit of commentary. (Perhaps some students will stumble upon this and add their own observations.)

Stay tuned

Monday, April 16, 2007

Day Two and Three: Interesting weather!

Well, the best laid plans...


Sorry for the delay, but our Niagara Hotel did not have any internet access! And then, we were getting in a bit late.

Here's the scoop!

We had a brilliant full day in Niagara Falls! The weather was being generous and I was able to take the students to the middle of Rainbow Bridge at the Canadian Border (we were not permitted to put even a toe in Canada) to take photos of the Falls. (The teachers etc. could not accompany us because they did not have passports!) So be prepared for some spectacular shots!

We were joined by Peter Brown who teamed upwith Kevin Cottrell to give us a tour of the area. One of our stops was Three Sisters Island off Goat Island in the Niagara River, literally. We gathered water to bring down to Ellis Island for a Marriage of the Waters ceremony, in honor of the opening of the Erie Canal.

It was Earth Day and there was a lot of activity at the Robert Moses Generating Plant's Power Vista. There were several booths there representing the towns and counties in the area. One of them were giving out Mardi Gras beads which most of the group ended up wearing.

After the tour we went to Summit Mall in Wheatfield where we were given lunch and the mayor (supervisor) of the town greeted us and gave us pins!

Then onto the Underground Railway Experience where we saw the bridge Harriet Tubman used to cross into freedom. The day ended with a reenactment in the Michigan Street Baptist Church as well as getting a glimpse of a hiding place used by runaway slaves when the church was part of the Underground Railroad.

Some of the students took photos of the illuminated Falls and other opted for swimming.

The next morning we checked out and headed fror Rochester. We experienced a mixture of rain and snow flurries. We visited the Susan B. Anthony House and Mt. Hope Cemetery. The City Of Rochester sent a representative and gave the school a coffee table book about the city as well as other goodies! They were also generous enough to give us the services of Dr. Anderson, who is an expert on Frederick Douglass. We layed wreaths at the graves of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. mrs. Joan Hunt of the Friends of Mt. Hope Cemetery made all the arrangements.

The wreaths had silk flowers (because it would last in the cold) and the colors were symbolic of both Womens Rights and Rosemont.

Lunch was fantastic! We ate at Eastview Mall and were given two-for-one coupons at Tom Wahl's. The Manager actually came in on his day off to serve us. He gave us all free frozen cookie dough as a treat. Great burgers! And they make their own root beer on the premises.

The tourism representative for the Finger Lakes Region also met us to give us cute cookies in the shap of New York State with a glaze that indicated where we were and a maple leaf for the maple-flavored icing!

The National Park Rangers at the Women's Rights National Park were superb. It was a wonderful museum, great tour, and a somewhat funny movie about women's rights.

Our dinner was at Beck's Grove Dinner Theatre. We had a private performance of the history of New York State and the Erie Canal. There was a lot of history, bad jokes, and great songs - we even had a couple of sing-alongs! The food was good and the hospitality was tremendous.

We pulled into the hotel late. It started to sleet as we unloaded luggage and I had to explain what sleet was. The Hotel Utica is very famous. Many well-known Americans have stayed there. The rooms are spacious.

Well, we're through with breakfast.

It's snowing!!!!

We're off to the Basesball Hall of Fame, Watervliet, Troy, and West Point.

I'll try to get back to you - IF they have internet!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Rosemont Day One - Erie Maritime Museum and Old Fort Niagara

Today we visited the Erie Maritime Museum and learned about the War of 1812; drove along Lake Erie and the Niagara River; glimpsed the Falls; enjoyed an interactive program at Old Fort Niagara; and we topped off the day with dinner at the Hard Rock Café. Weather conditions: Frigid.

Here are some student observations:

"I learned how to command the British Army!" - Daniel C.
"Today I learned a lot of new things, although it's really cold. This week is going to be so much fun!" - Hannah P.
"One cubic square of glacial ice is equal to 680,000,000 tons [We're checking this out.]" - C.J. S
"I really enjoyed going to Fort Niagara and learning how to shoot a musket." - Alex M.
"It was freezing when we visited Fort Niagara and we learned about how the British Army worked and how to load and use a musket." - Camille
"Today I learned that the British received one pork ration and dried peas. Later, seven men would take all the rations and mix them in a pot and divide them up evenly. After they were done cooking it, they kept the food underneath, waited until it hardened, and ate it as a snack when on guard." - Daniella K.
“I really enjoyed learning how to do things the British Army had to do, like marching and using rifles.” - M.H.
“I learned today that hogs heads means barrels.” – Eli M.
“Today, our first day of the trip, we learned that Old Fort Niagara is still here after 300 years.” – Miji K.
“Today, I enjoyed seeing the boat and seeing the different quarters and what they are used for.” – Terra M.
“I really enjoyed listening and learning about the muskets at Old Fort Niagara.” – Janice L.
“It was very interesting to learn more about the War of 1812 and Niagara Falls.” – Regina
“Going to Fort Niagara was a lot of fun and being able to have the opportunity to learn more about New York is a chance of a lifetime.” – Jessica K.
“I very much enjoyed learning the basics of learning how to handle a musket.” – Connie
“We learned how the British soldiers loaded and fired their muskets in battle. We were also taught how to march like soldiers.” – Paige F.
“I thought it was a lot of fun to learn how to be in the British Army; We learned how to march, how difficult it was being in the war, and how to shoot a gun.” – Dana G.
“I liked playing with the fake muskets and learning about the positions.” – Janet K.
“I learned that even though New York is moist, rainy, and cold, landslides don’t occur.” – Pauline M.
“Today was a great day and we traveled around the Great Lakes and the U.S.–Canadian border.” – Megan F.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Importance of Journals

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of working with a parent who remembered me as her tour guide on her eighth grade trip! She was accompanying her son, who was part of his school's trip!

After the initial shock that I had been in the business long enough, and old enough, for such an encounter, I asked her what she remembered from the trip.

"Oh, I remember you! I have a photo of you with the boys; on July 4th, you dressed up as the Statue of Liberty! You said they were shower curtains and you were sweating! It's here, in my journal!"

She had kept the looseleaf journal of the trip since 1986 and had brought it on her son's Washington, DC trip!

Her journal was the requirement of one of my most beloved teachers from Corona, CA, who tragically, died last year. (The above photo was sent to me by my teacher's husband.)

But this journal was a very thoughtful one that covered not just the background history and events of the trip, but her feelings concerning each stop, her budgeting, her purchases, the new foods she tried, the weather, news reports on TV, and headlines in the newspapers, revelations about her friends (one snored loudly and kicked while she slept), and the interaction amongst her roommates and classmates.

Each evening on the way to the hotel, I had her read something from the journal that applied to what we had done. We had discussions about the social interaction amongst the roommates on her trip as well as the one we were on.

I was impressed by the engaging way it was presented, the perspective of the trip from an eighth grader, and the life lessons learned.

There's a real difference between a group that has a journal and one that hasn't. As a rule, the ones with journals are far more appreciative of the trip and more focused during it. I don't have the discipline problems with a journal group as opposed to the non-journalers.

It's also nice that they can reference what they are about to experience in advance so that there aren't blank faces staring at the guide, docent, or ranger; journal groups get more respect and content from these providers.

Journals also give some busy work on the bus during long drives as well as help to get the students settled in their rooms in the hotel. There is less likely to be horseplay in the room if they have a paragraph or two to write, or need to get their budgets in order.

Journals come in all sizes and shapes; the presentation of information and the required work all varies according to the respective teachers.

Some journals were put together during the school year by the students themselves and contain reports on the sites and aspects of history. Others are put together by the teachers. Some are strictly academic, others have crossword puzzles and games attached. Many of my faith-based groups include scripture and prayers for each site.

I have just received the journal for Rosemont. Mrs. C-C has compiled a wonderful one that also includes a 'Getting to Know You Bingo', since several classes are combined. There is background information which can be reviewed five minutes before we reach the site and questions.

And there are pages for their thoughts.

I reinforce the importance of journals and even talk of some of the great diaries and journals. students today understand this concept more than they did ten years ago before MySpace, Xanga, and blogs existed.

But it is bittersweet to reflect that the first teacher I encountered that had journals for her students is now gone, although she is remembered in at least one of those journals.

Her name was Nancy Lynde from Corona, Ca. and I miss her.