A school trip to visit the Civil War Battlefields of Gettysburg was organized by Social Studies Teacher Mrs. Gunnersen for all interested 8th grade students. A total of 17 students and 5 chaperones departed on Friday, May 2nd, for a 3-day venture into America's past.
Friday, May 2nd
The trip started with the students meeting at the HS parking lot for a 7:15 AM departure on the bus. A planned stop in Grove City gave everyone a chance to use restrooms and get a snack. 2-hours later, we stopped at a PA State Park picnic area for a hotdog roast lunch, and to give the students a chance to stretch their legs. The park included a lake, streams, and hiking trails that the students explored while the chaperones prepared lunch. After eating and cleanup, everyone boarded the buses for the last leg of the trip. We rolled into Gettysburg at 5:00 and checked into our hotel. The weather was great with sunny skies and temperatures in the low eighties. Our students had an hour to un-pack, relax. and get ready for dinner. Our first event for the evening was a Dinner Murder Mystery Theatre, located just two blocks from our hotel. Everyone became involved in trying to figure out who the murderer was in a play that took place the day after the Gettysburg battles were over. During the course of the play, a dinner of lasagna was served and enjoyed by all. The play involved many of our students who had a great time participating. After the performance, we walked back to our bus and took a trip down the road to the AllStar Sports Center. Students were treated to two hours of go-cart riding, miniature golf, simulation rides, and more. The go-carts were the main attraction as many students stayed on them most of the time. After the two hours, the trip back to the hotel was made with students getting into their rooms, and settling down for the night. If wasn't long before the chatter was replaced with the sounds of silence as they went to sleep. The students will be getting a wake-up call at 7:30 AM, so that we can get to breakfast and have a great day on the battlefields.
Saturday, May 3rd
Our day started with a short trip down the road to a breakfast buffet. We then went back into town to visit the Schriver House, an actual house that was in existence before the war began and was used by the Confederate troops to shoot from the attic. The students were able to see what houses looked like during that period, including the furnishings. The house included a basement with a second full kitchen and a saloon for Mr. Schriver's business venture. Connected to the house was a two-lane bowling alley, but like the saloon, it was never used. Mr. Schriver died in the war and was never able to fulfill his dream of running the saloon. There were many stories that the tour guide told of how civilian life was like during the battles. We then walked through the village to a wax museum. Scenes telling of the events that took place were populated with very realistic wax figures. The next stop was the new visitors center which had just opened two weeks before we arrived. The huge center included a museum that featured many artifacts from the war. There were also many interactive and video displays that explained what happened during the battle of Gettysburg. The students then enjoyed a picnic lunch before heading out to the battlefields. Mr. Murphy prepared a tour route that was taken on the bus, making several stops at key monuments and battle scenes. Mr. Murphy also explained to the students the significance of the monuments and sites, pointing out the troop movements that took place. There were many points of interest, including everybody's favorite, Little Roundtop. You'll see in the pictures the hill top that is covered with huge boulders that the students could climb on. The Union army was entrenched here and was able to fend off the confederates. The view from this area was phenomenal, being able to see most of the battlefields. A stop at the Pennsylvania Memorial monument allowed the students to climb to the top of one of the largest monuments in the park. Another key area visited was the "Angle" in which the Confederate army tried to overcome the Union forces in the famous "Pickett's Charge". The students learned of a local connection with Alonzo Cushing of Fredonia as an artillery soldier that kept firing his cannon as the Confederates came over the wall and upon him. The battlefield tour closed out with a visit to the National Cemetery. It was here that President Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address at the dedication ceremony of the cemetery that contains thousands of soldiers that died in the battles there. The group then went for dinner at a buffet restaurant. From there, we went upstairs to a theatre for a special presentation with Abe Lincoln. A gentleman that looks and sounds just like President Lincoln spoke to our students, and gave the history of his life up to the Gettysburg Address. Knowing that we were from Western NY, he made several references to his trips to our area as President. He also took questions from us, and let us take a group photo with him. After walking back to the hotel, the students were given an hour to explore the shops and stores in our area before gathering for our last event, the Gettysburg Ghost Tour. This tour was a walking tour through town that started after dark. As we looked at the buildings, our guide told many stories of ghost soldiers seen recently. It started to rain a little, but that didn't bother the students, and added to the erieness of the venture. We were back at the hotel by 11:00, and a very tired group of students were soon fast asleep. Tomorrow we head back home with a couple of stops on the way, Stay tuned for the finish of the trip. There are many pictures with this article below. Enjoy!!!
Sunday, May 4th
Our last day in Gettysburg began with continental breakfast at our hotel followed by packing up and loading the bus for the trip home. But our adventures were not yet over, as a planned stop at Penn's Cave was next on our list. This is America's only all-water cavern which also includes a wildlife park located in Central Pennsylvania. Our students made there way down the walkway to the underground cave, and boarded the long skinny boat. The cavern tour was a guided one-hour tour along an underground stream. Along the limestone corridors, stalagmites, stalactites, and columns were pointed out by the guide, of which they named according to what they looked like. In addition to the guide's spotlight, the formations were lit with floodlights, including one area that used colored lighting to enhance the view. The students enjoyed the ride and learned quite a bit according to the quiz given by the guide on the way back to the dock. (6" = 3,000 years) We then had a cheeseburger lunch in the park's gift store/restaurant before boarding the park's "Safari Bus" for a tour of their nature and wildlife preserve. Over narrow roads and steep hills we traveled to view a variety of animals, including deer, elk and bison. But the more interesting part was the viewing of wolves, bears and lions that thrilled the students. The close-up views of them was better than seen in most zoos, and our Safari Guide did an excellent job of teaching us all about the creatures, along with answering all of the questions the students had. Afterwards, our students had a brief time to browse through the gift shop before it was time to board the bus for the trip home. A couple of stops for fuel and breaks were the only stops for the 5-hour trip home, of which we landed in Forestville at 7:30 PM with a bunch of exhausted students and chaperones. Before everyone left, Mrs. Gunnersen thanked the chaperones for their help, and the students for being such a great group. With such great results from this first-time ever trip, it is very likely it will become an annual event.