For 48 Rosemont Middle School eighth-graders, history came to life as they strolled through Trinity Church, stood on the decks of “Old Ironsides” and discovered how rumors and irrational fear can destroy lives in the Salem Witch Trial museum.
The students were part of the American Freedom Tour sponsored by the school’s history classes.
“This was a really good tour,” said history teacher and tour coordinator Lynn McGinnis.
Every year during spring break McGinnis plans a historical trip that highlights specific times in American history from the birth of the nation to the Civil War. Golf tournaments, rummage sales and pancake breakfasts are just some of the fundraising ways that help students pay for their trip. McGinnis keeps them excited and informed of the progress of their fundraising and encourages them to learn as much as they can about their destination.
The trip lasts eight days and students are kept on a tight schedule.
“We had pretty long days, but it was fun,” said Amber Amrhein, one of the travelers.
Amber said her favorite place to visit was the Salem Witch Museum. “It was kind of creepy but cool.”
“That was true, it was creepy but fun,” said Demitri Camperos, another student. “There was a dark room of mannequins and in some parts they would light up and move. I learned a lot about how the people [those accused of witchcraft] were persecuted with no proof at all.”
He said he also learned how powerful rumors can be.
“I learned about history, not just the facts that are in the history books,” said Jennifer Tanji. “This type of trip really helps you connect [with the past].”
A popular activity with many students was the cruise around Boston Harbor.
“That was fun. There was a dance floor and we all danced,” Camperos said.
Genevieve Emerson said that she hadn’t heard of the history trips until she was in seventh grade when students traveled to New York. The trip sounded like something she wanted to be part of, so when the chance came to sign up, she did.
“Boston was fun and we got to see a lot of sights,” she said. “We went to the Prudential Skywalk Mall; that was fun. My favorite place was this candy store. It was the oldest candy company in America. I got peach rings. They were good.”
For many of the students this was the first time on the east coast.
“It was cold,” said Emerson.
“And many of the people talked with a kind of accent,” Camperos said.
He admitted that many of the Bostonians probably thought the Californians had an accent, too.