European adventure awaits for UC, OC and SF students
Posted: Wednesday, October 6, 2010 8:58 pm
By: Glenda Caudle, Special Features Editor
By GLENDA CAUDLE
Special Features Editor
Europe, here they come!
For the third time, juniors from the three high schools in Obion County will be afforded the opportunity to enjoy an all-expense-paid 12-day tour of Europe in the summer that begins their senior year of high school.
Union City Rotary Club sent eight students from Union City High School and chaperones Jacob and Emily Cross to seven European countries in June 2009 on the premier adventure. Cross is the UCHS vice principal and a former history teacher.
In 2010, the trip’s itinerary was modified to lessen the number of countries visited but to add more time in Italy, including a visit to Rome, for another seven students from UCHS under the leadership of UCHS English teacher Joanna Wisener and her husband, Clark. Achieving yet another goal, the Rotary Club trip planning committee included a rising senior from Obion County Central High School and one from South Fulton High School on that tour list.
Planning for a third summer of travel began as soon as the student group returned and recently the 2011 trip chaperones were selected.
Union City Middle School teacher Mary Hellen Johnson and her husband, David, will be accompanying the group of eight-10 students who will participate in the Cosmos Travel Co. tour entitled “From St. Paul’s to St. Peter’s.” The tour name describes an opportunity that will begin when the local group of travelers arrives in London June 29 and take in a variety of sites over two days, including the famous St. Paul’s Cathedral. Then it will be on to Paris for two nights and adventures in the City of Light; two more days in Lucerne, Switzerland – a favorite of previous tour groups; and travel into Italy. There, the group will have two evenings in Venice, one in Florence and two more in Rome — including a chance to visit St. Peter’s — before heading home.
The departure date of June 28 from the Memphis airport and the return there on July 10 have been selected to take advantage of summer “open” dates for athletes and band students so that as many juniors as possible can take advantage of the opportunity to be selected by the trip committee.
Before travel takes place, however, the trip committee will be meeting with interested juniors and their parents to thoroughly explain the possibilities and the responsibilities of the program.
Interested juniors from the three Obion County high schools and at least one parent or legal guardian must attend one of two orientation sessions, set for either Thursday, Oct. 21, or Monday, Oct. 25, at Union City Civic Center at 6:30 p.m.
Students who do not attend one of these sessions or who are not accompanied by a parent or guardian cannot be considered for the trip, a spokesman said. There will be no exceptions. Dates for the orientation sessions will be announced at all three high schools, as well.
At each of these sessions, prospective travelers and their parents will meet the new chaperones, will have the opportunity to hear travelers from previous years share some of their adventures and will find out details of the upcoming trip. They will also receive applications and release forms to be signed by parents. These applications will be turned in to guidance counselors at the respective high schools, along with the same type family financial information that is submitted when students apply for Rotary Club college scholarships — a copy of the family’s latest tax return. This income information will be kept in complete privacy by the selection committee and viewed by no more than two members of the committee. All personal identification numbers may be blacked out and the forms will be destroyed as soon as the trip committee makes its selection.
The financial information is an essential part of the application because one of the stipulations for free travel is that a student’s family be unable to fund the trip themselves. The Rotary Club’s interest is in providing an opportunity for students who could not otherwise enjoy such a learning experience because of the expense. All juniors who are interested are encouraged to attend an orientation session and to complete the application, but the information included about family finances will have an impact on the final selection of students, a spokesman said.
In addition, students must have a positive record of school attendance, including a commitment to timely appearances in class; must have a good reputation with staff and students for behavior; and must show concern for their grades.
Once applications have been received, the trip selection committee, which is made up of Rotary Club members with experience through not only the travel program but also the Rotary Club scholarship program, will conduct interviews with each applicant.
“This trip is not a reward for the top academic standouts in the class, but it is a learning experience. So students must show that they are interested in expanding their knowledge of the world. They must assure the committee that they will be responsible travelers and they must impress those making the final decision that their selection will prove to be a positive one, not only for them but for their fellow travelers,” a trip committee spokesman said.
Once the travel group is selected, students and their chaperones will be spending several hours of preparation time together. Students will be expected to research the countries and cities they will be visiting and will be expected to take part in three to six Saturday or school evening trip study sessions. In these sessions, they will learn about the monetary systems, culture, languages, geography, artistic and architectural wonders and the historical sites they will encounter. They will also have sessions devoted to packing for the trip, safe travel practices and in planning what “extra” excursions they wish to take part in. Attendance and active participation in these sessions is essential.
A few days before these students leave, they will be invited to bring their parents to a wrap-up of travel information provided by Travel One in Union City at a Rotary Club-sponsored picnic-style event. Again, attendance by the traveling students and at least one parent or legal guardian is required.
Students who are selected for the trip but do not honor these commitments will be dropped from the program, a Rotary Club trip committee spokesman said, adding that the students’ families will be responsible for expenses incurred to that point.
“This opportunity is one no other students in this nation have ever been offered, as far as we can tell. Its value approaches $5,000 for each student. If a student is unwilling to be a cooperative traveler in either preparation for the trip or in the actual journey, he can ruin the experience for not only the Rotary travel group, but for all other people on the Cosmos tour. Our previous travel groups have earned high marks from the tour company and their fellow travelers from around the world. We expect to choose another group of exceptional young men and women for the 2011 adventure and we invite all interested juniors from Union City, Obion Central and South Fulton to attend one of the orientation sessions with their parents and learn more about the trip,” says Dr. Leland Davis, a Rotarian and co-chairman of the trip committee.
Mrs. Caudle may be contacted at glendacaudle @ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 10.06.10