Earlier this year, Westminster Academy’s board voted to include a senior trip to Italy in tuition as the final step of fully incorporating the trip into the school’s curriculum. This is a trip that Westminster students have taken for years, but is now being integrated with the history, literature, and theology courses from 2nd grade through senior year. It will truly be a capstone event that will help prepare students for the demands of college. Adam Woods, Upper School history and rhetoric teacher, had this to say about the trip:
“The Capstone trip is one of final elements of a student’s education at Westminster Academy. It is an opportunity for our students to broaden their education and deepen their appreciation of Western culture. This is not a new concept. Actually, for centuries this sort of immersive travel was customarily the final piece of a student’s schooling. In fact, it was assumed that if a student was well educated, they would spend a period of time traveling, solidifying their formal education, and using this travel as an opportunity to enrich their lives by immersing themselves in the language, cuisine, and customs of a foreign culture.
“Of course, there are many places students can visit to have such an experience– it doesn’t require a trip to Europe. Yet for a student with a classical Christian education, Italy presents a unique opportunity. The sites we visit during our trip are not only interesting and beautiful, but they carry cultural and historical significance. It goes without saying, Italy served as the cradle of Western civilization for centuries and is home of some of the most remarkable sites and artifacts in Europe. However, more than that, many of the places we visit carry special significance for the Church. We’re visiting the center of an ancient empire that was the context for the incarnation of our Lord, a land that served as the soil for the blossoming of the early Church and the emergence of Christendom in the West. So when our students visit sites such as the ancient Catacombs of Rome, St. Peter’s Basilica, or the Duomo of Florence not only is their formal education enhanced, but their faith is enriched by understanding their place in the long-unfolding story of God’s people. So in a way, our students are both tourists and pilgrims throughout our time in Italy.
“The specific sights and locations were chosen to deepen our students’ understanding of the various pieces of their education– whether it’s exploring the Roman Forum, marveling at the engineering genius of Brunelleschi, or appreciating the works of masters such as Michelangelo, Bernini, and Caravaggio– students are able to see the places, events, and works of art they’ve studied since grammar school come to life. As a faculty chaperone, this enchantment of their education is the most rewarding part of the trip, specifically seeing how excited students get when they see and experience things they’ve studied throughout their time at Westminster Academy.”