Year 10 in New York – February 2019

Going to the United States of America and visiting one of its most vibrant cities; New York was an incredible opportunity. Four teachers and 30 amazing Arena Academy students with our bags packed, all the paperwork filled in, passports checked; we trudged onto the coach at 2:00am on a Saturday morning – destination….Manchester!

No time to rest, we headed straight to the hotel (very close to the Hudson River) and got sorted for our first adventure in the Big Apple. Step one: Get those thermals on!! It was freezing. Step two: Directions to Times Square -‘The Crossroads of the World’. Our group walked resiliently onward to see the bright lights of the big city and to get some of that Bubba Gump food! Mr Jones sprouting tourist facts along the way; ‘Did you know that more than a third of a million people pass through Times Square every day!’

Day 2: Started with what would become one of the highlights of the trip, breakfast and the amazing blueberry waffles! We all refueled for another day of adventure. After negotiating the subway system, we were walking onto the boat for our Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Cruise. The weather was perfect, blue skies and sunshine and zero degrees Celsius! Mr Jones with some more crucial facts stated, “The Statue of Liberty is one of the world’s most iconic structures and has become a symbol of freedom and democracy.”

Next stop: 9/11 memorial and museum. Students and staff were all clearly moved by this experience as we gazed into the twin reflecting pools. Both are each nearly an acre in size and feature the largest man-made waterfalls in North America.  The pools sit within the footprints where the Twin Towers once stood.  The names of every person who died are inscribed into bronze panels edging the Memorial pools. The museum was filled with heart-breaking stories and artifacts commemorating the nearly 3000 men, women and children who died on 9/11. Dinner at Heartland Brewery that evening was a great chance to reflect and discuss what we had learnt that day while sharing tex-mex nachos and mini pulled pork sliders.

Day 3: Central Park was calling so we head out for the day. Central Park is one of the most famous city areas in the world and covers over 842 acres of park land which makes up 6% of the whole of Manhattan! Strolling through central park, we made sure to hit all the landmarks and to get loads of pics of the skyline and buildings. We stopped at Strawberry fields and the John Lennon imagine circle, where we all had a bit of a singalong, Bethesda Fountain and Terrace and the Alice in Wonderland bronze statue. Finishing up, we made our way to the Loeb Boathouse for some hot chocolate!

Next stop: New York’s Fifth Avenue. Time for some retail therapy. Almost 4 hours later, and with a much lighter bank balance, our intrepid group, made their way to Grand Central Station. Mr Jones unusually quiet after Mr Stephens forced him to have some buffalo wings!! The 76-acre site makes this the largest train station in the world.  The vaulted ceiling has a twinkling map of the constellations and nearly 700,000 commuters walk around the marbles counters and central clock every day.  The magnificent aesthetic modeled on ancient Roman baths makes this iconic public space so magical.

Quick once round the buffet at Mama Sbarro and we were on the move again. Next stop: The Rockefeller Center. As if New York knew it was our last night, we made our way up the 266 meters and walked out to fireworks over the Hudson and the breath-taking view of New York City at night! Absolutely stunning scenes of all the landmarks in this amazing urban jungle. Students were tasked with trying to spot all the landmarks and were quick to point out the Chrysler and Empire State buildings.

The last day: Snow and freezing rain as we made our way to the trendy area of Chelsea so we decide to hit the Chelsea market instead. Dry and warm we picked up some more goodies and refreshments. Another trip on the subway got us to our lunch destination of Juliana’s Pizza. Our group took up the entire restaurant, but the pizza was fab and we needed it! The hard part was ahead – walking back across the Brooklyn Bridge!

Did you know that the Brooklyn Bridge is stone and the Manhattan Bridge is steel? That’s how you tell them apart! The bridge was completely iced up and every step was another opportunity to hit the deck, face first! Our intrepid group forged ahead. Not a single complaint! Mr Stephens leading from the front. We took some awesome photos of the bridge and the misty skyline of New York but it was time to go home.

So with sad, tired steps we made our way back to the hotel to get the coach to the airport. It had been an outstanding journey. So many memories made, friendship formed, dreams come true! Our fearless little group had formed such a connection. We didn’t want it to end and so on the coach to the airport to keep our spirits up we had our own little variety performance! Jokes, impressions, singing and awards for those students that were just stand out super during the trip!

What an opportunity is it to get to go to the United States of America and visit one of its most vibrant cities; New York. Four teachers and 30 amazing Arena Academy students.

Our trip took us to the iconic land marks that make up New York and some on the most well-known locations in the world. Our keen tourists started this adventure with a trip to Times Square ‘The Crossroads of the World’. The rest of the time in New York they visited: The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island Cruise, 9/11 memorial and museum, Central Park, Fifth Avenue, Grand Central Station, The Rockefeller Centre, Chrysler Building, Empire State building and finishing with a walking across Brooklyn Bridge for Pizza followed by a snow ball fight! Let’s not forget the food -we feasted on traditional American cuisine from blueberry pancakes to buffalo wings!

All in all, a very well planned and executed, marathon of a trip! Staff and students thoroughly exhausted but exhilarated. Same again next year!?

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