Article by Caitlin McDonough, Class of 2019:
On November 7, 2014, the Kellenberg Memorial Squires went on the ever anticipated annual trip to the great city of Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Each year the Latin School 8th grade students have looked forward to this historical venture.
The day began as the Squires arrived at Kellenberg Memorial High School at the early hour of 6:00 AM. All of the students beat the morning fatigue because of their excitement about the adventure that lied ahead for them.
As each homeroom filled their individual coach bus, the moderators herded all the students aboard so that no one would be left behind. Each of the buses was equipped with all the necessary gadgets to keep the students occupied the entire trip. Examples of what was available were reclining seats; phone charger outlets, unlimited free WiFi, and movie screens. What else could a Squire hope for? As the caravan of these coach buses left the Kellenberg campus, it was apparent that it was going to be a great day.
Despite the comfort of the seating, there was going to be no sleeping on the bus– that was for sure. As the classmates shared conversation and watched movies, laughter filled the air.
Our first historical site came as we rode into New Jersey. When our eyes caught a glimpse of these massive artillery loaded battleship, we came to learn was the USS New Jersey. We were treated to a tour of the ship given by a veteran serviceman. We learned that the USS New Jersey was a battleship that was used during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The small quarters for the men and the hard lifestyle out on the sea made my classmates and I realize the hard work these men must have done.
At around noon, the tour came to an abrupt stop when we were summoned to chow on the ship as if we were its crew. Eating lunch on the boat on the was a special experience because it allowed us to actually see a part of the daily life of the sailors who had served on this battleship. We all expressed our gratitude to our veteran tour guides both for their time that day as well as their service to our country.
Afterwards, we were back on the bus continuing our journey to the streets of Philadelphia. Once in the city, we exited the bus and were greeted by individuals who were dressed as if they were walking the streets in the colonial days of the revolution. Theses historically dressed folks turned out to be our tour guides. Our tour guide took us to Independence Hall, the Liberty bell, Betsy Ross’s House, Benjamin Franklin’s Printing Press, and his grave site.
In Independence Hall, we saw a colonial courtroom, and our guide explained how the legal system worked. We also saw a room where our Founding Fathers wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution.
Next, we went to see the actual Liberty Bell. We learned that It was rung to gather the colonists for the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. At first, a small crack was evident on the Bell, but the crack grew bigger with continued use of the bell and a second crack also appeared. The Liberty Bell remains an icon symbolic of the new independent nation that was formed and a symbol of the freedom we still enjoy today.
We then had the opportunity to visit the house in which Betsy Ross lived. Our guide allowed us to view the “safe room” in the house where Betsy Ross sewed the American flag in secrecy from the British. George Washington gave her the design for the flag, but she made some changes to make the sewing a little easier. For example, she created a new design for the stars to make it simpler to cut them out.
We were then off to see a reenactment of Benjamin Franklin’s printing Press. We learned that it took over three hours for him to set up the letters needed to print the Declaration of Independence. Afterwards, we went to the place where Benjamin’s house was located. Now there is a pillar outline of the house created by an artist to give visitors a sense of what the original house was like. Benjamin Franklin was a wealthy man so his house was larger than most at that time.
Our last stop regarding Ben Franklin was to the cemetery where he was buried. His grave was marked by a large marble stone which was covered with pennies facing heads up. This tradition is used as a form of good luck for all the visitors. You could hear all of the Squires change jingling as they searched their pockets for pennies to put on the grave.
Finally, we were able to visit an area of colonial houses that are currently occupied by people today. Some of the houses still had the mirrors on the top of the house that was used to see who was at their front door. We were also treated to a fantastic one-woman-show that summarized the history of our country. She really opened our eyes to what our country was all about which is freedom, unity, and respect for all those who live in the United States.
One of the best parts of the trip was the buffet dinner where we all got to eat, talk, and laugh about our day. Next, it was off to the gift shop! We all scrambled to find the best souvenir. A big hit was the tall Uncle Sam Hat that had many of the students looking very patriotic.
After such a full day, the bus ride back to Kellenberg was a much quieter ride than in the morning. There still was laughter and talking, but a few people actually were able to close their eyes and sleep. As they slept, others reflected on their day and the wonderful experiences they were able to have.
It was clear that the Squires completely enjoyed the day filled history of our great country. Mackenzie Godley remarked, “The trip was jumping into a text book.” “It was like a trip back in time on a battleship,” commented Ella D’Addona. “The trip reinforced my American Heritage,” stated Charlie Gorden.
As for me, I feel that the trip made us reflect on what God has given us and how fortunate we are to have great classmates, faculty, and breathtaking school experiences. As important is the gratitude I feel to live in the most wonderful blessed country on earth. We are and always will be, “One Nation, under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All.”