11 students, along with Project Vine English teacher Dani Fletcher and her partner, Ellen Muir (a Math teacher at Sandwich High School) traveled by bus on Thursday down to the Tri-State Area. On Thursday evening, students boarded the Circle Line Cruise ship out of mid-town Manhattan for a narrated sightseeing tour at sunset which included views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Freedom Tower and many other landmarks of historic significance in both New York and New Jersey. Though the fog that evening took some of the grandeur away from the real height of the buildings, the city lights were still dazzling, especially as the ship passed under the iconic bridges connecting the island of Manhattan to the mainland.
That evening, after the cruise, the bus took a detour en route back to the hotel to see the splendor of Times Square at night. With the bus lit up like daylight by the billboards and multi-story LED screens, students got a first taste of what they would be seeing the following day.
On Friday, students and staff ate breakfast together at the hotel in Jersey City, then boarded the bus back to New York to start our walking tour, which included the following sights:
Grand Central Station and the whispering tunnels: Students tested out this architectural anomaly wherein a person standing facing the corner of one side of the tunnel can hear someone standing opposite them across the tunnel just as clearly as if they were standing right in front of them, even at low volume. Speculation exists that the tunnels were designed to allow spies or bootleggers to do business in the station without being detected, but no matter the original reason or if it were purely an accident of design, they are a lot of fun.
Bryant Park and the New York Public Library: One of the most beautiful and fashionable locations in the city, featuring the famed New York Public Library lion statues, as well as the park where the runways for fashion week are set up each year.
Times Square: Students learned about tipping street performers and not taking anything people hand them, but also got to take in the awesome people-watching and commercial spectacle that is Times Square on a beautiful, sunny day.
Radio City Music Hall: As featured in the novel Catcher in the Rye (where Holden went to see a movie) the famed music hall still lights up a restored version of its original block-long marquee from 1932!
Rockefeller Center and the NBC Studios: Students tried to catch a peak through the stage doors of the NBC studios while walking to the famed Rockefeller Center for lunch.
The Museum of Modern Art: Though many wished for more time here, students had the opportunity to spend about an hour exploring the collections of the MoMA, including Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Matisse’ Dance and Worhol’s Cambell’s Soup Cans.
Trump Tower: The group had the unique opportunity to walk by Trump Tower, now sheltered by multiple blocks of barricades and dozens of black SUVs, such that though we couldn’t actually get near the building, we did get a good sense of what life in that area has become since the election of President Trump.
The Plaza Hotel: As featured (along with now President Trump!) in Home Alone 2, this famed hotel has been the standard of fine lodging in New York City for decades.
Central Park, including the lagoon (and ducks!) by Central Park South: An oasis for us after a more than three-mile walk through the city on what turned out to be a hot day, Central Park offers an interesting contrast between the gentle nature of original rock formations, cultivated tree and flower collections and ducks in a lagoon, and the gigantic skyscrapers of the city all around it. Students got to see the ducks that Holden Caulfield asked about so often for themselves and experience the bustle of the park on a busy warm day.
After that, it was time to head back. Through some miracle of fate, skilled driving and a lot of targeted positive energy, students made the last boat home on Friday night! Many, many thanks to Jack MacDonald, our driver, for not only being our bus driver but for being another member of our Project Vine family along the way.
Many thanks also to the other students in Project Vine who worked to make this trip happen, even when not all could attend. Thank you to the parents, teachers and community members who helped us raise the funds to make this happen. Thanks as well to Ms. Ellen Muir for volunteering to be our second chaperone and doing one heck of a job learning everyone’s name even before we reached New York. Lastly, thank you to the students who made the trip the amazing experience, epic even, that it ended up being!