New York trip for Brechin High

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In the first week of April, a group of 13 pupils and two teachers set off for the ‘Big Apple’ on a trip to discover the historical sites that we have studied this year in our higher history class.

Even after a seven hour flight, we still managed to find the energy to take a trip to the world-famous Macy’s Department Store, before heading back to our hotel to recharge ourselves for the long day ahead.

The next morning, we took a ferry across the water to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, where we used audio tour devices to teach us of the rich history that surrounds these places.

Despite the fact that it was absolutely freezing, we still managed to have a very good time and were fascinated by the tales of real-life immigrants, whose stories we had learned about in class.

It was amazing to see the first places the prospective immigrants would have seen upon entering the country.

When we returned to land again, we headed to the Empire State Building to take a look over the New York skyline in the dark. The scene was quite breath-taking, and many of us have listed this as one of our favourite moments from the trip.

The following day, we took the subway to the Brooklyn Tabernacle – a gospel church, and watched a very talented choir who had apparently performed at Barrack Obama’s inauguration.

Then we took a walk along the Brooklyn Bridge, observing the beautiful sights as we went, before heading to the Rockefeller Centre. This was also a major highlight, as the ‘Top of the Rock’ showed us New York City in the daylight.

We concluded the day with a trip to Times Square, where we took time to shop and enjoy the incredible lights and electronic billboards that filled every corner of the space.

The next day began with a trip to the famous Natural History Museum, where we all took the chance to view the interesting artefacts and exhibitions that were displayed there before heading to the planetarium to view a fascinating show that attempted to explain to us the concept of dark matter.

Although the facts went over most of our heads, it was enjoyable nonetheless. On this day we also took a trip to ‘Ground Zero’, the site of the 9/11 attacks, to pay our respects to the fallen.

The sheer number of names that were engraved on the memorial hit us all hard, and it was a very harrowing experience as we thought about all the families of those affected.

Our last full day saw us visiting Wall Street, a place that has been central to our learning over the past year. We were taken on a guided tour, and told all about the infamous Wall Street Crash that triggered the Great Depression of the 1930s. This was incredibly useful to us, as it brought to life what had previously just been words in our textbooks. Following this insightful tour, the group split in two for a break – with the girls heading to shop in Soho, as the boys visited a Yankees game.

We were reunited for a final tour of a tenement building which had been the home of an Italian immigrant family in the early 1900s. It felt as though we were stepping back in time into the lives of these families as we saw the living conditions they had to contend with, and heard the heart-breaking story of a mother abandoned by her husband to bring up her children and work for herself.

On our final day, we began with a walk through Central Park on our way to Fifth Avenue to do some last minute shopping, before taking a six hour flight back home to Brechin.

This trip was an incredible one, which we’re certain none of us will ever forget. Not only did it give us some great friendships and memories, it was invaluable to us in terms of experiencing first-hand the sights which characterise the monumental events in World History we have been studying for our exam in May.