Last Wednesday was a long day, but a great one. You see, I like to take one big field trip every year with my students, usually somewhere in New York City, and this year's trip was the coolest ever. Past trips have included visits to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, a Central Park Scavenger Hunt, and the Museum of Modern Art, but the destination for this year's foray into NYC was none other than the Great White Way.
You see, it all started when we read The Wizard of Oz last year in class. Being from other countries, many of my students have never heard of Dorothy or the Wicked Witch of the West or even Munchkins. Those characters and the story are an inherent part of American culture, but to most of my students, well, they just never heard of them. Their reactions to the story, as you can imagine, are almost always positive. They're as fascinated as we were as little kids following Dorothy and Toto, the Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion on their adventure, and their enthusiasm brought to mind an idea for a great field trip.
Wicked, the Untold Story of the Witches of Oz is one of the greatest Broadway shows I've ever seen, and to me, the story is such a unique and interesting take on the characters from L. Frank Baum's story. The play has everything, from comedy to high drama, and of course a great musical score. When the idea was first suggested to me by my friend and colleague Kristen, I immediately began to plan it out in my head, and after a year of difficult and oftentimes stressful planning, the day finally came, and it was awesome!
My plan was to give these kids, about 24 of them, a day they would never forget, and so I weaved some lessons for my beginners and my intermediate and advanced kids read the script beforehand, but really none of them were really prepared for what they saw.
We began our day in the city with a pre-field trip of sorts, to the world-famous Carmine's. In all, 28 of us feasted on family style Italian fare for just about two hours before Wicked and during that stretch my kids made me proud. Sometime during the second course, a woman walked over to our table and asked who was in charge.
That'd be me, I responded.
I have to tell you...when me and my friends saw all of those teenagers walk in we thought that it was going to be trouble, but these are the most well-behaved teenagers I've ever seen.
And they were! I hadn't even realized it before, but my students were about as well behaved a group of kids that I've ever seen. They did do me proud, but not only during the two hours we spent stuffing our faces, but afterwards, as well. We only had about fifteen minutes to make our way up to 51st St., where the theater was, from 44th, where Carmine's is. The students followed one another (and us chaperones!) all the way through seven blocks of Broadway and we made it to our seats only moments before showtime.
The rest of our afternoon was spent engrossed in the incredible story of poor, misunderstood Elphaba, her best friend Glinda, and her sister Nessarose. Like I said above, this show is so entertaining for anyone who comes to see it, and my kids loved it. In fact, at the end of Defying Gravity, the finale to the first act, four of my students turned to me to ask, disappointingly, if it was over. Of course, it wasn't.
After the show, all plied happily onto the bus for a grueling, three-plus hour ride home, and for the most part, the students were well behaved there, too. I love field trips, and I especially loved this one, Hopefully, I've given 28 kids a day they won't soon forget and they gave me the kind of warmth I simply love to soak in...watching them experience an awesome, shared memory!
And then, the bus ride, lol...