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East Hampton Board Of Education Approves Trip To Italy For Seniors

Originally Posted: October 10, 2008

Aaron Boyd

At the Oct. 7 East Hampton Board of Education meeting, approval was given for the nine-day trip to Italy for seniors who are studying the language with teacher Christine Swickard. Photos by Aaron Boyd

East Hampton - Christine Swickard will be taking her two East Hampton High School Italian classes abroad in Italy this coming April recess. The trip will enable students learning the Italian language, culture and history to experience their studies firsthand.

"Academically speaking, I think it will be tremendous," Swickard asserted. "Tremendous."

Swickard has been teaching language courses in East Hampton for 16 years, and while she has taken students abroad in the past, this will be the first time that a trip is designed around a language course. The Italian classes will concentrate on conversation, culture and civilization, according to Swickard, before applying their learning in the land they've been studying. "I want them to have a grasp of everything Italian," Swickard explained.

The nine-day tour will take 45 seniors, with six tenured faculty as chaperones, through Italy from top to bottom, beginning in Milan, then to Florence, Siena, Venice, Rome, Assisi, Pompeii and Capri. The trip will focus on seeing and experiencing everything the students learned throughout the year. "I want them to be renaissance students," Swickard explained, planning a diverse itinerary that will include architecture, art, sculpture, literature and science.

Teacher Christine Swickard (r) outlined the students itinerary and the educational
aspects of the Italy trip.

Swickard believes that Italy will be a particularly beneficial trip for the students, as they will be familiar with much of the popular historic landmarks they will be seeing. From da Vinci's Last Supper in Milan, to the Uffizi and Academia in Florence, to the authentic small village feeling of Siena, the students will be able to see the history they've heard about throughout their lives, reinforced by a year of studying Italian language and culture.

For a professor to take students abroad they must be taking a course that relates to the trip and there has to be an academic component. Only students enrolled in Swickard's two Italian courses will be allowed to go and they will be required to maintain a record of each place they visit and the cultural experiences they encounter there.

Some students won't be able to make the trip, although most of the children who cannot go have prior sports obligations, according to Swickard. "We have private donations that have already covered two students who couldn't pay," Swickard explained, assuring that no students would be left behind for financial reasons. The students will also be holding five or six fundraisers before the trip to help supplement costs. Those students who do not go will complete the same project as their fellow classmates, following their journey virtually online.

Swickard contends that traveling and understanding different cultures will be essential for East Hampton students' development in an interconnected world. "We have to make students citizens of the world," she explained.

The East Hampton Board of Education approved the trip at their Oct. 7 session. "Not all public schools allow this," Swickard asserted, citing safety concerns and tightened controls since Sept. 11, 2001, "I'm grateful to have the board's support."

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