Day 6: Pantheon, Santa Maria in Trastevere and COVID Testing

Our final day in Rome! We visited the Pantheon in the morning. “After the rainfall overnight, it was cool to see how it fell into the Pantheon,” said Connor Caba, Gr 12. While in the Pantheon, originally a temple later transformed into a Christian church, students saw the tomb of Raphael. After yesterday’s visit to the Vatican and seeing his works of art, the students found it to be a powerful experience.

Following the Pantheon, we all got COVID tested. We’re very happy to announce that we’re all negative! Before dinner, we made a stop at Santa Maria in Trastevere. “The columns are taken from the Baths of Caracalla. It shows the reuse of ancient Rome in Christianity,” said Dr. David Jacobson.

While at dinner, Sofia Tobiason, Gr. 10 volunteered to dance salsa with our waiter. “Besides the food, that was the best part of dinner,” said Sofia. She received a round of applause from the restaurant customers.

The students are all excited to head home first thing in the morning tomorrow.

See the full photo album here.

Day 5: Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s Basilica

Are eight hours enough in Vatican City? Definitely not. Today, students viewed numerous pieces of priceless arts and artifacts throughout the 70,000+ exhibits. While many students remarked on the indescribable awe of the Sistine Chapel, they were also grateful to climb to the top of the Coppola of St. Peter’s Basilica. “It was nice to climb to the top to see the whole perspective of the building, especially what it may have looked like many years ago,” said Connor Caba, Gr. 12. In total, visitors must climb 551 steps to reach the top of the dome. Each step becomes progressively narrower as one reaches the top.

Faculty and students including Jonathan Fields and Jacob Savage, Gr. 10 and Sydney Mountain, Gr. 11 attended mass spoken in Italian at St. Peter’s Basilica. It was powerful for each to engage in an aspect so close to our school community in the most holy of places. We saw the statue of St. Francis, who we pray to during each chapel, within the walls of the basilica along with many other Saints and past Popes. Guiseppe Scala, Gr. 10 discovered old graffiti dating back to 1671 etched into the marble of some I the statues. While we don’t encourage defacing works of art, it was amazing for each of us to see ordinary peoples who left their literal mark even before the United States of America fought for its revolution.

See the full photo album here.

Day 4: Villa Borghese, Santa Maria Maggiore, Palazzo Massimo and Circus Maximus

The highlight for many today, including Guiseppe Scala, Gr. 10, was the many sculptures we saw in the Villa Borghese. While it was collectively agreed that Bernini’s works are stunning, Guiseppe said that Pauline Bonaparte as Venus Victrix by Canova was his favorite piece saying that, “Just the bed alone is so detailed. I wanted to spend more time looking at it.” In addition to the numerous works on the walls and on podiums, visitors need to remember to look up at the gorgeous ceilings. “They’re breathtaking works of art,” said Sofia Tobiason, Gr. 10.

After lunch, we traveled to Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore (The Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major). Some students took the opportunity to pray while others enjoyed the beauty within. Next was the Palazzo Massimo which houses the National Museum of Rome. We viewed several pieces from antiquity and were in awe at the many Roman frescoes. On the way to dinner, we stopped at the Circus Maximus. There, students held another foot race. Nils Wallace, Gr. 10 was the victor! Finally, after a dinner of pizza the group enjoyed a desert of gelato on the way to the hotel.

See the full photo album here.

Day 3: Pompeii

The tour took us out of the city of Rome to visit the ancient ruins of Pompeii. This city was completely buried in ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. Before its destruction, Pompeii was viewed as a resort town of sorts, which many Romans  visited. While there, the students discovered symbols of good luck to warn away evil spirits. This was one of Kailer Tom’s , Gr. 12 favorite moments of the day, “seeing the good luck all over Pompeii was really cool.” Clearly, these symbols of good luck didn’t save the city from ruin, but it brought good fortune to us for being able to see what life may have been like for ancient Pompeians. 

While there, the students experienced another amphitheater, this one much smaller than the Roman Colosseum we visited yesterday. The tradition of a student foot race in the amphitheater continued, with Geoffrey Karsant, Gr. 10 victorious. This is one of the favorite moments for Mr. Roderick Mobley, Science Department Chair, of the entire trip.

See the full photo album here.

Day 2: Capitoline Museum, Campus Martius and Mater

Jonathan Fields, Gr. 10 summarized the group experience today by stating that “learning Latin is … useful!” regarding the numerous artifacts from antiquity that include this language. Together we visited the Capitoline Museum, which houses famous works such as the remaining pieces of the Colossus of Constantine, The Dying Gaul, the Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius, and the Capitoline Wolf. Bailey Parent, Gr. 11 presented today on the Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius including that this bronze statue had survived when others were melted down for reuse due to its misidentification as Constantine the Great, the “Christian Emperor.” In between the Capitoline Museum and the Campus Martius, students had the opportunity to eat lunch in the Jewish Ghetto, where Sophia Tobiason, Gr. 10 said that she had the “best pasta ever.” The group moved on to visit Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Mausoleum of Augustus, the Ara Pacis, and more.

See the full photo album here.

Day 1: Exploring Ancient Rome

This morning the group visited the Roman Forum and the Palantine Hill. The students worked to translate a piece from Ovid (The Fasti) where we discussed the origin story of Rome. After a delicious lunch near the Colosseum, we ventured into the famous amphitheater. There, students learned about the lives of gladiators — some even purchasing their own “armor” from the gift shop. We ended the day with dinner in the remains of the Theater of Pompey, where Julius Caesar was killed.

See the full photo album here.

Day 5: Sophomore Costa Rica Trip

Student Reflection by Jonathan Fields

With it being the second to last day of activities, one might think the trip starts to slow down. This wasn’t the case. Being in the first group of rafting, I had to wake up extremely early and eat breakfast even earlier. We started the rafting trip early with having our tour guide, Alvaro, educate us on the surrounding area, and give us info on the palm oil industry and the big corporations competing for them, the Saverde River and the attempt to create a hydroelectric plant and the locals who have fought in the judicial system to keep the river in its natural form. By the end of the rafting trip, everyone’s clothes were drenched, dirty, and we still had to ride the buses back. Lunch was a good refresher though. We’re about to finish up the day with a Salsa tournament and a talent show, both of which I’m not competing in (thankfully.) This trip has been amazing so far, even with the guidelines. I hope everyone gets back safely. 

Pura Vida!

See the full photo album here.

Day 4: Sophomore Costa Rica Trip

Student Reflection by Elizabeth Kilmer and Claire Abel

Today as a part of the Tortuga group, we went hiking and zip lining through the jungles of Costa Rica. The hike was challenging at first, but it was all worth it once we got to zip through the trees. We saw many animals including sloths (2-toed and 3-toed) and we also learned how to distinguish them from each other. We also saw toucans and monkeys that were only feet away from us. There were also many clusters of ants marching along with leaves on their backs. These are known as black army ants, or bullet ants. Once we got to the top of the stairs, we rode through eight zip lines, which got more challenging as we went along. On the last one they encouraged us to go backwards, which we did. After we hiked back down, some of us went snorkeling and saw whales, while others went to the town of Dominical. The two of us experienced the culture of Dominical by walking through the streets, shopping and eating at a cafe. We finished the day by sitting at the pool and chatting with our friends. 

See the full photo album here.

Day 3: Sophomore Costa Rica Trip

Student Reflection by Grace Gallagher

Today we started the day off surfing. It was a blast because we got to hang out with the local instructors and shred some waves. (Pura Vida!) Then we walked back to the hotel and showered, had lunch and were off to ziplining. We took an eco tour and saw two capuchin monkeys, three sloths and a LOT of ants! We ziplined on seven lines (one backwards) and overall it was super fun. Now we’re sitting in the dining room after dinner and are about to finish our card game! Grace’s highlight of the day: surfing! Buenas noches! 

Student Reflection by Liam Donohue

Today we went to a local school to construct a garden and paint a walkway for the school. My group helped create a lettuce garden (una lechuga). We cleared out the weeds in the area and put new soil in for the plants. It was challenging because the school was on a steep hill. After the service, we went to Playa Hermosa (Sister Beach) and played football as a group. The beach was very beautiful and we talked with a local mom about Costa Rican life. I really learned a lot about Costa Rican life and customs and had a lot of fun. Liam’s highlight of the day: talking to Local Mom about Costa Rican life!

See the full photo album here.