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540 steps and counting; students enjoying trip

540 steps and counting; students enjoying trip

Posted: Friday, June 18, 2010 8:58 pm

By GLENDA CAUDLE
Special Features Editor
Five hundred forty steps.
And they climbed them all.
Chase Bowling, one of nine members of the Class of 2011 from Union City, South Fulton and Obion County Central high schools, called home to report in on Thursday’s activities for his fellow travelers and said the climb to the top of the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London was well worth it.
The students — Bowling, Trey Maddox, Megan Hickman, Cameryn Fishel, Kassadie Mullins, Lakevius Turner and Jasmine Davis from UCHS, Jacob Cleaver from SFHS and Alton Alexander of Hornbeak from OCCHS — and their chaperones, Clark and Joanna Wisener, left Union City Tuesday morning for the Memphis airport. After a late afternoon flight to Minneapolis-St. Paul and a change of planes, they turned east and headed over the Atlantic Ocean to London overnight. Arriving there early Wednesday morning, they began the 12-day all-expense-paid tour of major European cities provided for them all by Union City Rotary Club.
Travel One in Union City made the arrangements for a trip billed as “St. Paul’s to St. Peter’s” (reflecting the fact that the journey was to begin in London with its most breathtaking cathedral and is to end in Rome, at the world-famous church) through Cosmos Travel. A committee representing the Rotary Club interviewed and selected the students and chaperones; settled on the trip from several possibilities made available through Travel One; created the budget and submitted the bill for all expenses — including passports, backpacks with the Rotary logo, distinctive gold Rotary shirts for the trip over and back, travel journals, currency/passport/document carriers and even multi-colored luggage pompons for easy baggage identification to the local club; secured the services of First State Bank, who provided free bank cards to help the travelers manage the variety of currencies they will be dealing with; and even handed over a cell phone (courtesy of Wood Communications Cellpage of Fulton, an authorized Verizon retailer) to the Wiseners so the group can check in at the close of each day of their journey.
On Thursday night, it was Bowling’s turn to call his parents, Darren and Dawn Bowling of Union City.
Earlier in the day, his fellow travelers had gained access to an Internet site and sent home some brief updates on their day before heading out again for more activity, but Bowling’s account reflected an entire day packed with excitement.
“Boy, was he full of words!” Mrs. Bowling reported to The Messenger this morning. “I think he used the word ‘amazing’ about 10 times. They toured the Tower of London and saw the crown jewels. He said they were so pretty that they looked fake. There was even a solid gold punch bowl as large as a bathtub. He enjoyed seeing all of the gold swords of kings past. They toured the Tower Bridge, but St. Paul’s Cathedral was his favorite. He said it was breathtaking. It is the largest building he has ever seen and the most beautiful. They walked 540 steps to the top dome and looked down where you could see it all. He said that it was gorgeous. The hustle and bustle lifestyle was interesting to them, too. It is shoulder-to-shoulder people and everyone is moving fast, all of the time. He said that so far this experience is like no other he has ever had and he used the word amazing once again,” she added.
From the Internet communication sent earlier in the day, The Messenger picked up these nuggets:
• Mrs. Wisener (UCHS English teacher) — “We are about to head out for our final dinner in London and to walk through Kensington Park. London has been amazing — busy, loud, beautiful and all the things I imagined it would be! Each of the kids typed a little something below so I will just say they have been wonderful! They are taking the lead and helping with directions and keeping track with each other. Clark and I have been very pleased with everyone’s attitude and interest. No problems.”
• Megan Hickman — “We made it to London. Everyone is having a good time. Everyone is safe. It’s really busy and crowded, but we are seeing a lot of amazing history.”
• Alton Alexander — “Hey, everyone from home! I hope all is well. Our trip so far has been amazing. London is like a different world, and I am truly in love. I especially love the culture and the people here. It is also amazing that some of the buildings we have seen are over 1,000 years old; to me, that is incredible! We’re having a magnificent experience! See you all soon and love you all. God bless!”
• Kassadie Mullins — “Hello, everyone back home! We made it here safely and everyone is having a good time. Everything here is so beautiful. I love it here — the people and the culture.”
• Cameryn Fishel — “We are having a blast! We have toured the city and it’s so neat. We will have plenty of stories to tell when we get back!”
• Trey Maddox — “Hello everybody! Everything is going fine and we’re adjusting well. London … I’m speechless. It’s so different from every other city I’ve ever been to, but we’re all having fun. We’re all getting to know each other better, as well. If the rest of the trip is anything like the beginning, I know we’ll have an amazing time.”
• Lakevius Turner — “Hey, everyone. We are all doing well. We had a great time at St. Paul’s Cathedral. London is actually kind of like New York, with all of the different kinds of people, stores and subway. We have really gotten to know each other and are looking forward to Paris.”
• Jasmine Davis — “We are having a very good time in London. We have been to many places and they were very beautiful. The scenery is lovely! This is definitely a trip of a lifetime!!
• Chase Bowling — “London is amazing! It’s such a huge and busy city. The history here is amazing! We have toured castles, cathedrals and all kinds of amazing sites. Everything is going great and we can’t wait to tell everyone about our adventures.”
• Jacob Cleaver — “London is awesome! The culture and scenery are amazing. We all are having an amazing time and meeting some interesting people. I have been taking a lot of pictures and videos which I can’t wait to show you.”
The students were to board a Cosmos Tour bus and head for the English Channel today, with an afternoon devoted to exploring Paris and two nights there. Sunday it’s on to Lucerne, Switzerland — a favorite of the 2009 student tour group. Come Tuesday, they’ll head for beautiful Lugano, Switzerland, and a lakeside walking tour before crossing the border into Italy. Once there, they will make stops in Verona, Venice, Florence and Pisa, arriving in Rome, the Eternal City, June 25. The trip will wind down when the head home June 27, fly westward, and land in Memphis late afternoon. A big yellow bus provided by Union City School System will pick them up and bring them home to share their stories in person.
Until then, look for daily updates on the “trip of a lifetime,” as reported by the participants, in The Messenger.
Mrs. Caudle may be contacted at glendacaudle@ucmessenger.com.

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