by Rachel Jones

One of the benefits of being an IB student is having the chance to become a well-rounded, worldly student. At Stuart, there are many opportunities for students to expand their understanding of different subjects, cultures, and people through various trips that are offered. Some trips are exclusive to certain departments or teams while others are open enrollment. Whoever you might be, and whatever you are involved in, there is a trip that suits you and your interests.

Orlando, Florida

Every spring, Stuart’s music department offers a Spring trip for all students in band, chorus and orchestra. On April 5, 2015, the music department will be driving to Orlando, Fla. The musicians will be participating in specific concerts for their various groups, unlike last year during their trip to Nashville, where they were coached by musicians at Vanderbilt University. In their free time, the groups will be headed to amusement parks like Wet and Wild and Universal Studios, to relax and to bond with their fellow musicians.

“[The Spring Trip] was such a great experience last year,” said Tuguldur Enkhtaivan, a junior who is a member of Stuart’s Symphonic Orchestra. “It allowed me to broaden my horizons and helped me to understand the history that is accompanied with music.” No matter if the bus is headed to Chicago (2013), Nashville (2014) or to Orlando (2015), the music department’s spring trip is guaranteed to be a good time.

Costa Rica

Biology teacher Debbie Menard, sponsors a biennial trip for students to go to Costa Rica. She is sponsoring the 2015 trip for the first time through Education First “EF” Tours. This will be the fifth year that the trip has taken place.

Over spring break, juniors and seniors had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica for nine days. Recruitment for the trip begins the school year before the trip occurs, so that students can pay for the trip slowly through low monthly payments through GoFundMe.com.

Though the trip is independant from FCPS, students participated in activities together with students from other high schools that integrated various subjects that they learn in school.

“This trip is a great way for students to leave the country and hang out with students from different high schools, both nationwide and internationally and to apply all of the things that you have learned in school,” Menard said. Students sharpen their biology knowledge through learning about the rainforest, learning about geosystems by hiking a volcano, going on plantation tours to learn the history of the country, and teaching english to young school children.

“We visited a country that cares a lot about their culture and environment and it was truly amazing!” said junior Daytona Kassy.

“All in all, from the snorkeling to the zip lining, this trip is a great time, and helps students unwind before the whirlwind of the end of the year. Everyone should go!” Menard said.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Another trip that took place over spring break is the Varsity Baseball team’s fifth annual trip to Myrtle Beach. Varsity head coach Randy Lightle plans the trip to South Carolina every year, where the team participates in the Cal Ripken Experience Tournament.

The baseball program sponsors their own trip through many fundraising events, including an auction for parents and mulch sales. The week-long tournament includes opening ceremonies, four games and skills-competitions for the players. During their time off, the players visit Myrtle Beach boardwalk and enjoy the ocean and the warm weather.

“This trip affords the varsity baseball players an opportunity to play at a great facility and to enjoy warm weather during Spring Break,” said Coach Lightle. During the trip, the team competes in baseball games against teams from all over the country. In addition, players enjoy time to relax and bond as a team during their off-time. “It was good for us to get some games in,” said junior varsity baseball player Whitten Rutledge. “We got more playing experience as a team and the players got to bond.”

Europe

In the summer of 2016, the Spanish and French Language Departments are planning a trip to Spain, France and Italy for a select group of students, independently from FCPS. The participating students will travel over the course of 12 days to Madrid, Barcelona, Provence, the French Riviera, Piza, Florence, Assisi and Rome. Elizabeth Buffenbarger, Stuart French teacher and sponsor of the trip, believes that the trip will give students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to dive into other cultures.

“Stuart High School is one school with many voices,” Buffenbarger said. “However, our students do not listen to all these voices because of many barriers that stand in the way. Putting the students in a new strange environment will make them more interested to be open to the new cultures and ways of life.”

Life in Northern Virginia is very different from life in Europe or around the world. Learning about different cultures can widen your understanding of the world, but visiting other places and encountering their lifestyles is more important than anything you can learn in a classroom.

“Exploring how others experience life around the world will make them more globally aware and conscience of others,” Buffenbarger said.

Any student interested in the trip is allowed to go. According to Buffenbarger, the only requirements for the trip are that you must be in high school during the time of the trip. If you’re interested in exploring different cultures and ways of life around the world, this trip is for you.

No matter your hobbies, whether they may be sports, or an interest in cultures and languages, or even just a desire to travel, there is a trip for you offered at Stuart.

Image by Rachel Jones