By Bailey Marshall, Cameron Hildebrand, and Olivia Hoye
On February 28th, the James River High School Knights traveled to New York City. Over thirty James River students grades nine through twelve set off on an Abbott bus at 7:00 a.m. on Thursday morning. After a nine-hour trip, a stop at Chick-Fil-A, and a few bathroom breaks, the students arrived in the city around 4:00 p.m.
The bus driver, Gale, pulled the bus to the side of the street where she let students out. As the wide-eyed kids layered up to brave the cold they met their tour guide, Janet. She has lived in New York for thirty-two years but is originally from London. Janet went everywhere the Knights went and provided local and educational insight during the stops.
The trip began with a midtown walking tour where students viewed Times Square and Rockefeller Center with the final destination being at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue. St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the largest standing cathedral in the United States today. It houses mosaics with thousands of detailed pieces as well as shrines to saints in the Catholic Church.
Soon thereafter, students walked to Ellen’s Stardust Diner which is known for their singing wait staff. Students enjoyed a Broadway-like performance from employees as they snacked on traditional American cuisine.
To top off a wonderful first day in the Big Apple, the Knights traveled to the Empire State Building. There, students had the opportunity to travel to the top and take in the sites. Olivia Hoye states, “The Empire State Building was one of my favorite parts of the trip because of how beautiful the view was. The city looked so small yet so big at the same time, it blew my mind.”
After a good night of rest on Thursday, students were up for breakfast at 6:30 a.m. the next morning. The anticipation grew as participants were dropped off at Rockefeller Plaza where they sat outside of NBC studios to claim their fifteen seconds of fame on national television. You may have noticed some James River signs saying “Buchanan VA → NYC” being waved proudly on the day the show aired.
A tour of Radio City Music Hall was next on the agenda for the day. After meeting a Rockette and viewing the Music Hall, students walked to lunch at Grand Central Station. A highlight of the station was the whispering wall where people are able to stand in the corners of a room, talk into it, and have a person from the other side hear them and be able to speak back.
The next stop was the Fashion Institute of Technology in Chelsea. Students got to experience seeing the Fashion Museum there and then they embarked on a surprise trip. With aid from Janet, chaperones were able to take a small group to see Kleinfeld Bridal Shop where Say Yes to the Dress is filmed.
Next was dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. Students received the classic Hard Rock experience with the New York twist. After that, the Knights walked a few blocks up Broadway to see Aladdin, the Broadway show. The spectacular theatrical play lasted for two hours. Tired from a busy day, students traveled back to the hotel around 10:30 p.m. to get some rest and prepare for day three.
After a busy second day, the students woke up Saturday morning and were ready for another eventful day when they arrived at breakfast at 7:00 a.m. They woke up to snow-covered ground and were looking forward to their first stop, Ellis Island. In Jersey they got to board the ferry with Janet and visit the immigration museum while getting a fabulous look of the Statue of Liberty.
Following two hours exploring Ellis Island, the students hopped back on the ferry and headed over to Manhattan. Here they spent time walking through the financial district where they saw the famous “Charging Bull” and the “Fearless Girl” statue. After walking past Trinity Church and the New York Stock Exchange, the students took a break for lunch in Brookfield Place.
Directly after the students made their way to the World Trade Center. Here, they spent a few hours in the 9/11 Memorial Museum and the 9/11 Memorial, which was emotional for some on the trip. In the museum, there was everything one could imagine. Included was anywhere from tributes to those who lost their lives, to remaining pieces of the fire trucks that were first responders.
To end the day on an upbeat note, they then traveled to Chinatown where they had time to shop, explore, and bargain in the shops along the streets. To end the evening they enjoyed an authentic Italian meal at Grotta Azzurra.
On Sunday, the Knights woke up early and headed to Central Park. There they saw the Imagine Memorial to John Lennon at Strawberry Fields as well as where he used to live. After that, they made a stop in Greenwich Village, one of the more residential areas of New York City and home of New York University, where they saw the infamous Friends apartment. They stopped by Washington Square Park which Janet described as “a backyard for NYU students.” They also visited SoHo, the art district of Lower Manhattan and popular shopping destination. There the students were given free time to shop at stores like Adidas and Urban Outfitters.
The last destination of the trip was the Chelsea Market for lunch. Previously the home of the Oreo cookie, the building is now an urban shopping mall and food court with over thirty restaurants to choose from.
If you’d like to see more pictures of the trip, visit James River’s twitter or look up the hashtags #JRNYC2019 and #KnightsInNewYork!