Journeying through History

by | Apr 19, 2023 | News

Walking down the streets of Salem, Massachusetts, 10th grade Journey students traveled back in time to learn more about the witch trials and Salem’s rich history as an 18th century seaport. A day later, they grabbed the train into Boston to visit the Boston Tea Party Museum, explore the U.S.S. Constitution, and wander around the city. 

Journey gives Downeast youth the chance to explore the outdoors and their communities to develop the tools needed to successfully transition to high school as well as higher education and career pathways. Each year, the program focuses on a different theme and for 10th grade the theme is “Exploring Outside our Communities” with an emphasis on history and culture. Earlier this year, students met with Journey Coordinator Briana West to discuss the trip.

“One of our main goals is to introduce our students to new ideas, new places, and explore. Learning through doing makes the experience that much better and memorable. We gave the students the budget, the theme of our trip, the area, and let them research,” West says. “They produced a long list and worked hard to narrow the list down to what fit into their budget and the ones they wanted to visit the most. Students were more excited because they picked the locations and planned most of their trip. It was truly great trip.”

So, on an unseasonably warm day in early April, the students piled into two vans to make their way down to Wellesley where they stayed at Wellesley Village Church. On the trip down to Massachusetts, the group made their first history stop, Fort McClary. The fort was used during five wars during the 19th and 20th centuries to protect the harbor of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery. There they found out more about how forts were integral to the country’s defense along the coast.  

The next day, the group visited Salem and walked down some of the oldest streets in America. The students learned about the Salem witch trials at the Salem Witch Museum and then walked to the House of the Seven Gables. There, during a private tour of the estate, they found out more about the American author Nathaniel Hawthorne as well as the history of Salem as an early and influential shipping port.  

The next day, the group was up early to make the trek into Boston, taking the commuter rail into South Station, a first for some of the students. From there, they visited the Boston Tea Party Museum. Once inside, students assigned aliases of actual participants to help immerse themselves in the experience. Through an interactive tour, the students learned more about how the events of that night directly led to the start of the Revolutionary War. After a brief pit stop in Chinatown, the group headed to Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Quincy Market for lunch and shopping. The students rounded out their trip with a visit to the U.S.S. Constitution where they visited the museum to learn more about the history of the boat and then went aboard.  

On the last day of the trip, everyone piled into the vans early to make their way out to city before the start of the Boston Marathon. The students learned about history but also explored new places and broadened their horizons, a core tenet of Journey. The group will continue to meet throughout the year.

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