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Rising seniors claim spots in travel-abroad program

Rising seniors claim spots in travel-abroad program

Posted: Wednesday, June 2, 2010 10:52 am
By: Glenda Caudle, Special Features Editor

By GLENDA CAUDLE
Special Features Editor
It’s three countries shorter than the 2009 version, but this year’s Union City Rotary Club-sponsored trip abroad has an extra day and a brand new city built into the itinerary.
Nine students, representing the three high schools in Obion County, will be leaving Union City June 15 to board a flight to Europe for an all-expense paid journey of exploration. Accompanying them will be Union City High School English teacher Joanna Wisener and her husband, Clark. The students include Jacob Cleaver from South Fulton High School, Alton Alexander from Obion County Central High School and UCHS students Chase Bowling, Lakevius Turner, Trey Maddox, Megan Hickman, Jasmine Davis, Cameryn Fishel and Kassadie Mullins.
All are members of the Class of 2011 and they will be jump-starting their senior year with unforgettable days spent in London, where their overnight flight from the USA will land early on the morning of June 16 and where they will sight-see until June 18, when they will be leaving early in the day to cross the English Channel by ferry and then continue on by tour bus to Paris.
The group will explore the City of Light and then depart on June 20 for Lake Lucerne in Switzerland, a favorite stop for the inaugural tour’s group last summer. On June 22, the map will lead them across Alpine Mountain ranges to Lugano and then over the border to Italy, where Verona and Venice will provide exciting vistas to explore.
A full day in Venice on June 23 and the next day it’s on to Florence for another overnight. Pisa follows and then the group will take on the antiquities and the charm of Rome, the Eternal City, June 25.
Then it will be time to head home June 27, catalogue the memories and prepare to share them with anyone who will listen. Among those eager to listen are sure to be members of the Class of 2012, who will be the next contenders for travel honors, provided Union City Rotary Club elects to continue its generous provision.
The current group of students were selected last fall after interested juniors from the three high schools and their parents were invited to attend one of two nights of orientation about the upcoming trip. Following those sessions, students who wanted to commit to the journey submitted applications that included family financial information, since one of the requisites for the trip is that it be a learning adventure that would not be feasible for the students’ parents to provide.
There followed face-to-face interviews with a team of Rotary Club members who had sharpened their question-posing skills by serving on that organization’s scholarship committee over the years.
The students selected were announced in mid-November and got to work immediately doing the requisite work to prepare academically for the voyage. Mrs. Wisener and her husband, working with the Rotary Club trip committee — which also included several representatives of the educational community — assigned research papers on the places to be visited to the students and then set up a series of learning sessions to be completed before the trip was actually undertaken.
The 2009 trip — the first to be proposed and supported by Union City Rotary Club — included only eight students who were all selected from UCHS. With one successful such undertaking to their credit, the committee decided to begin to enlarge the pool and turned to SFHS and OCCHS for additional students for the 2010 adventure.
Working on Saturday mornings and in a couple of after-school sessions, the students and their chaperones met with experienced travelers and University of Tennessee at Martin history professor Dr. Stan and Sarah Sieber and with UCHS art teacher Hilary Webb in further preparation for the trip.
During those sessions, the students and chaperones and, frequently, parents gained knowledge of foreign currency, safety tips, packing skills, culture, language, geography, history, art and architecture for the trip that is advertised by Cosmos Travel as “From St. Paul’s to St. Peter’s” to describe the possibilities from the famous cathedral in London to the most famous church site in the world in Rome.
Travel One representative Linda Aaron arranged the trip details and has been available to the trip planning committee to answer numerous questions and provide details to give families of the students information they will need to track their children’s progress across Europe.
A last-minute wrap-up will be offered at the trip picnic, set for students and their families, chaperones and trip committee members, plus Mrs. Aaron and the Siebers, on the Saturday before they embark.
At that session, the students will receive the rest of the items they need to remind them of the high goals the Rotary Club is setting for them.
While they have already been making notes in their Rotary-provided trip journals and have met with First State Bank representatives to open the accounts that will hold the funds Rotary is providing for their expenses as they deal with three different currencies, the students will also be receiving security-style currency, document and passport holders; a pair of bright yellow-gold shirts with the local Rotary Club emblem for ease in identifying each other as they leave the area and return to the country by air; Rotary-emblem embroidered backpacks to be used as their carry-on luggage; colorful yarn baggage markers and Cosmos identification tags; and up-dated itineraries so families can track precisely where their jet-setting students are at any time.
While student cell phones and laptops are verboten on the trip, the chaperones will be provided a cell phone and each day, one student will make a call home to report on the group’s activities. At the picnic, a calling-tree will be set up for parents, who will then report to each other and to The Messenger on the adventures enjoyed.
Students will travel, as a group, to and from the Memphis airport on a bus provided at no charge by the Union City School System.
“After months of planning and preparing for the trip, I’m so excited that our date of departure is near,” says Mrs. Wisener.
“I expect to be amazed, not only because I will be surrounded by history and art and beauty, but also because I will be sharing this experience with a great group of young people who are eager to embrace every aspect of this adventure. I know that the actual experience will far exceed anything we can imagine, and I look forward to every minute of this journey.” 
Published in The Messenger 6.1.10

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