On Thursday 19th October, fifteen students and four members of staff from Chigwell School set off on the trip of a lifetime to New York City. Action-packed from the get-go, the sixth formers had the incredible opportunity of climbing the famous Empire State building where they were greeted with spectacular night-time views of the city that never sleeps. This was an impressionable experience, rivalled only by the view of the skyline and the Statue of Liberty that met the students from the Staten Island ferry a few days later.


Primarily aimed at students studying American Literature as part of their English A-Level, the trip provided an unmissable opportunity for the children to learn more about the historical context of one of the most prominent cities in the United States. This was the case during the guided tour of Harlem, where they learnt more about the Harlem Renaissance and the flourishing of African American art in mainstream 1920 and 30s culture. Similarly, the walk through the financial district enabled the travelling group to gain a greater understanding of the economic, architectural and historical significance of the city. The latter walking tour also included an extremely poignant trip to the 9/11 memorial and museum in Lower Manhattan as respect was paid to those who lost their lives on that tragic September day 22 years ago. 


The trip also included a memorable outing to the grand country home of Edith Wharton (‘The Mount’) whose novel ‘The Age of Innocence’ is one of the works that is studied at A-Level. Another highlight was on the Friday when the group spent the evening in a jazz club just as many of the richest New Yorkers would have done during the economic boom of the 1920s ‘Jazz Age.’ At the other end of the spectrum, the students were able to imagine what life had been like for those who had been less fortunate, especially in the trip to the Tenement museum on the final day, where they were made aware of not only the disagreeable living conditions but also the socio-political hostility that many immigrants to America have faced over the years.


Along with the educational importance of the trip, the students had plenty of time to enjoy themselves, particularly when faced with the opportunity to see ‘The Play That Went Wrong’ in Broadway which left certain members of the cohort in delirium. 


All in all, this was a school trip like no other that will live long in the memories of all those involved with students forming new bonds as they shared new experiences together in the city of New York.