London Calling!

DECEMBER 21, 2023

This fall marked 20 years of the Class IX London Trip, and the Class of 2027 was one of the largestest classes to have ever made the journey: 71 students plus 15 chaperones.

Highlights of the trip included visits to the Royal Observatory and the Maritime Museum in Greenwich, the British Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, Hampton Court, the Barbican, an ecology tour along the River Thames, the Tower of London, and of course, the London Eye.

The Painting Project, a staple of the London trip, allowed Class IX students to show-off their art history knowledge to their peers (and perhaps some intrigued onlookers). About a month prior to departure, each Class IX student is assigned a painting that resides in the National Gallery and they are to become the resident expert on this painting. Students work with the Library Department to complete their research, learning as much as possible about the piece of art, answering such questions as why it was painted, what the composition tells the viewer about the story, who are the players in the scene, and what are the various interpretations of the painting's meaning.

They then turn to the English department to compile all of their research into a five minute presentation that they then share (without notes) in front of their painting at the National Gallery—typically in the middle of a very busy room. While they are only expected to address their peers in their travel group—typically eight or nine other students—it is not uncommon for fellow museum goers to make their way over to the presenter, eagerly taking in the details and knowledge put forth so confidently by Nightingale students.

While their nerves going into the presentations are often frayed, especially if it’s a particularly crowded day at the museum, most (if not all) students leave the National Gallery with an incredible sense of accomplishment and pride, often running back to get a photo of “their painting” to always remember.

Reflecting on the experience, Christina S. '27 shared that was only ever excited going into the presentation. "I felt very supported by my teachers and classmates and was curious to learn more about my painting. Once it was over, there was relief, of course, that I no longer had to practice everyday. However, there was also a sense of having lost something special, kind of like when you open all your birthday presents and there’s none left. The painting project is a presentation I will never forget. I also appreciate that I got to see my painting in a different and more in-depth way than I ever would if I simply glossed over it in a museum. And the more you learn, the more you love and admire the painting - not just as a canvas with paint, but a complex and beautiful theme of life, society, or whatever the theme may be." she said.

New to the itinerary this year, and a runaway favorite with the students, were visits to UK schools. These visits pushed Nightingale students to enhance their global literacy as they immersed themselves in a different educational environment, while connecting with peers from outside of the United States. School visits were organized by travel groups over the course of two days and spanned from Central London to Windsor to Kent and back again. Students had the opportunity to take classes, attend assemblies, and engage in spirited discussions about the differences between the United Kingdom and the United States with respect to the government, education, social customs, and more.

Eden J. '27 shared, "I had so much fun going to all these different schools while we were in London. In my travel group we went to many different classes, such as Latin and art class, and were given tours of the school by different students. All the students were so nice and welcoming. It was so great to talk to people who live in a completely different place, learn how they’re taught, and almost experience what it’s like to live and go to school in London. It was such a great experience and I know I’ll always remember it."