For many middle schoolers, the highlight of the school year will be the traditional class trip to Washington, D.C., Toronto or New York City. For seventh grade students at Laurel School, that highly anticipated trip will begin and end right here in Cleveland.
Later this month, 43 Laurel Students will spend three days and two nights downtown, exploring the history and beauty of their hometown. Laurel School’s mission is “to inspire each girl to fulfill her promise and to better the world.” The school hopes that by showing students a side of Cleveland they may not know, they'll begin bettering the world close to home.
From the faculty's viewpoint, this is much more than a sightseeing trip. “As we all know, Cleveland is going through a rough patch right now. We want our students to be part of the solution that will help turn the city around,” says Kathleen Shields, Laurel Middle School english teacher. “Of course, we’ve made a commitment to support the city economically, but more importantly, we made a commitment to get the girls excited about their hometown. We want to expose them to the treasures that the city has to offer so that they begin to develop an appreciation for and pride about living here, and perhaps one day begin their adult lives here.”
(l-r: Laurel student Ellie points out the next stop at the Terminal Tower; Laurel seventh graders outside the Great Lakes Science Center with Mounted Police Department)
The girls will kick off their trip by meeting Cleveland’s current mayor, Mayor Frank Jackson, where they will have the opportunity to ask questions and have their picture taken with the mayor. Additional activities will include a tour to the top of the Terminal Tower, lunch and bowling at the Corner Alley, a behind-the-scenes tour of Playhouse Square complete with an acting class and tickets to the evening performance of An Ideal Husband, a tour and lunch at Cleveland Browns Stadium, a boat trip along Lake Erie and up the Cuyahoga, dinner at a Spanish restaurant followed by flamenco dancing lessons, and viewing and sketching public art and architecture. The students will also make visits to the Coast Guard, Rock Hall and Science Center, Key Bank, Old Stone Church, and Soldiers and Sailors Monument.
The trip will also serve as a springboard for follow-up day trips throughout the year to Tremont, Little Italy, Slavic Village, the Fairfax neighborhood, Cleveland State University and University Circle. "Cleveland as a Classroom" is the Middle School theme for the year. “We believe that when students understand the opportunities in and vibrancy of a city like Cleveland, the future brightens,” says Karen Redmond, Laurel seventh grade science teacher.