Three faculty members and nine students traveled to England and Scotland this summer. The group, led by Head of School O.J. Morgan and former counselor Nicole Smith, started off in London. Assistant Head of School Christy Lusk and her family met up with the group, and current grandparent and British native Pam Williams also traveled with the group and assisted in the planning. Mr. Morgan kept a blog of the trip at http://brightunitedkingdom.blogspot.com/.
In London, the grouped experienced riding on the Underground, visited the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, toured on a double decker bus, rode a boat to the Tower of London, and immersed themselves in Harry Potter at Warner Bros. Studios. “From the magnificent sets to the ingenious special effects, we began to realize the immense talent, skill, imagination, and pure inspiration that permeated the entire enterprise. We first entered the exhibit by walking through the large, decorative doors leading into The Great Hall of Hogwarts. From there we next peered into Hagrid's Hut, various rooms at Hogwarts, the homes of the Dursleys and the Weasleys, Diagon Alley, The Forbidden Forest, you name it. They were all there, including every piece of furniture and all of the different features in the rooms, all of the scary creatures, and the giant warrior-like chess pieces,” Mr. Morgan wrote in his blog.
At the Tower of London, the children were in line in front of 7-foot-tall Brad Daugherty, who played basketball at the University of North Carolina and for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Mr. Morgan and Mrs. Lusk visited The American International School in England and toured the grounds. Meanwhile, the group watched the changing of the guards at that Horse Guards Parade. The group then visited Westminster Abbey. “If anyone wishes to get a full sense of British history, the Abbey is the place to go. There the kids saw memorials, tombs, and epitaphs to well-known figures from British history. Kings, queens, famous explorers, scientists, prime ministers, poets, musicians, novelists, playwrights, historians--they all have a place within the abbey for everyone to remember their contributions to the world. The most recent burial stone honored the famous scientist, Stephen Hawking, just next to the site of Sir Isaac Newton's grave,” Mr. Morgan wrote. Next was the London Eye, Leicester Square and Cambridge Theatre.
The students on the tour included rising fourth graders, rising fifth graders and rising sixth graders. “They have been such a wonderful group. We've asked much of them as we've averaged walking 7-8 miles a day, maneuvered together through various subway changes, navigated through throngs of tourists, and stood in line for the really important sites, with never a complaint. I'm really proud of them,” Mr. Morgan wrote.
The group next traveled to York by train. The students enjoyed the National Rail Museum, the world’s largest collection of trains and rail artifacts; York Minster Cathedral and its 297 steps to the top of the tower and the “basement” museum showing the history of the Roman fort it was built upon and the subsequent buildings located on the spot; the Homestead Gardens; Jorvik Viking Museum; and the medieval Barleyhouse. A highlight was York’s Chocolate Story, a museum of the chocolate industry.
Edinburgh was the next stop. After lunch, the group cheered on England in the World Cup match against Sweden. The evening included a ghost tour along the Royal Mile. “After our young, vivacious guide, Sam, demonstrated certain torture techniques on Mr. Morgan, much to the delight of the children for some reason, he took us to various nefarious spots that had seen grisly crimes in the past. The most interesting parts of the tour were the underground caverns that had housed a variety of criminals during the 18th and 19th centuries,” Mr. Morgan wrote.
The second day in Edinburgh included a double-decker bus tour of the city. The group stopped at the Royal Yacht Britannia and Holyrood Palace, the home of Queen Elizabeth when she is in town. Unfortunately, the group missed seeing the queen by a few days.
On the last day, the group toured Edinburgh Castle and Mary King’s Close, which is a series of underground homes and alleyways now covered over by buildings.
The students saw a great deal of historical places and learned many new things, including how to travel and be on their own away from their parents. They are on their way to becoming citizens of the world, as the Bright mission statement says.
Mr. Morgan summed up the trip: “It takes so much cooperation and understanding to make a trip like ours successful. Moving a group of young kids through crowds, finding restaurants to accommodate them, balancing activities to keep them engaged and excited, and helping them through the challenges that always come with traveling to a new place depends on everyone doing his or her part. They all performed wonderfully well, and parents should be really proud.”