Spring Break 2023: Upper School Students Explore the “Splendors of Europe”

By Robert Burke, Upper School History Teacher, Spring Break Trip Coordinator

During the Spring Break, Upper School history teacher Robert Burke and Upper School French teacher Jeanette Nederveen accompanied 19 students on the “Splendors of Europe” travel program through EA Tours. After several years of planning and delays due to the pandemic, students and teachers were eager to restart the tradition of providing enriching educational opportunities abroad.

Our travels began with a flight to Paris, followed by a bus ride to the city of Caen, France. We spent the first afternoon exploring the city of Caen, including French bakeries and the Château de Caen, an 11th century fortress originally built by William the Conqueror. On Tuesday morning, we traveled by bus to the Normandy D-Day locations of Utah Beach, Omaha Beach, Pointe du Hoc, and the American Cemetery. We returned back to Caen and toured the WWII museum.

“The best part about the trip was the first couple of days when we went and saw Normandy beach and getting to see the English Channel. We also got to see where the events of World War II changed pace during D-Day and all the rich history of the area, including all of the old Germany bunkers which were eventually bombed by the Americans, but it was very good to see and be able to acknowledge what happened in this very important place in history.” – 10th Grader, Zac Knight

On Wednesday, we traveled by train back to Paris early in the morning. Upon arriving in Paris, we toured much of the city by bus, including stops outside the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. Thursday morning, we toured the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay where students viewed numerous works of art, including the Mona Lisa, Monets, and van Goghs. We then walked by the Place de la Concorde and the Paris Opera House. That evening, we traveled to the Basilica of Sacré Coeur de Montmartre and watched the sun go down over Paris. On Thursday, our last day in Paris, students spent much of the day touring the Château de Versailles, home of Louis XIV and many other French monarchs.

“My favorite part of the trip was meeting so many new friends and amazing people, especially while visiting the Eiffel Tower!” – 9th Grader, Willa Polen

“My favorite part of the trip was going to Versailles, France. Not only did I enjoy exploring the beautiful golden palace but visiting the town as well. With nice cafes and shops, it was as pretty as Paris, but had a peaceful, small-town vibe.” – 11th Grader, Eve Gaudette

“On the second day in Paris, we got to see some incredible artwork and historical pieces in the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay, all the while avoiding the French protests as best as we could. (Who doesn’t love some fun drama?) And to top it all off, we climbed up to La Butte Montmartre to end the day with the most beautiful view of the city of Paris.” – 10th Grader, JP Fortes Ribeiro

Friday morning, we traveled by plane to our final European destination of Rome, Italy. After checking in to the hotel, students participated in a walking tour of numerous sites close to the hotel including the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, and plenty of gelato! Saturday morning, students toured the Roman forum, including the burial site of Julius Caesar. We then traveled by subway to the Vatican City and toured the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica. Students finished the evening with a tour of the Colosseum and a walk through the shopping districts.

“I loved the whole trip! My favorite parts were in Italy. In only two days, we got to see the culture, tourism, and many historical sights. I appreciated that everything was in walking distance and our tour guide was amazing at explaining the history in detail.” – 9th Grader, Zara Rahman

By the end of Spring Break, students had a head full of French and Italian culture to go along with their legs full of sore muscles. We definitely put in some miles! Ms. Nederveen and I would like to sincerely thank the MVA administration, along with all the parents, students, and the staff at EA Tours for creating such a memorable experience.

Plans are currently being made for Spring Break 2024! After receiving feedback from several families, I learned that an earlier signup would be greatly appreciated and helpful to the planning process. Therefore, I am thrilled to announce Spring Break Greece 2024!

Students will have the opportunity to explore Athens in a deeply enriching cultural experience, including historical sites, a cooking class, local scenes, and the pleasure of having Ms. Nederveen and Dr. Arghyrou on this trip! “Dr. A” is the social studies department chair, originally from Greek side of the island of Cyprus. Dr. A is excited to return to Greece and share his passion for culture (especially the food) with students. In addition to Athens, students will spend two days on the island of Santorini, one of the most famous and scenic Greek islands.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me at Robert.Burke@montverde.org.