Latin students at Sandwich High School will have the opportunity to visit Rome to experience the culture they have only seen in textbooks.
Foreign language department head Liam Kelly and Latin teacher Mary Moynahan presented the proposed trip to the Sandwich School Committee at its meeting on Wednesday, October 16.
The school board approved the trip as it was presented at its meeting on Wednesday, November 6. It will take place from February 13 to February 21, 2021. Throughout the week, students will be touring sites such as the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, Palazzo Massimo and the Vatican.
The trip will cost about $3,500 per student and Mr. Kelly said that there are going to be opportunities for students to fundraise to offset the cost of the trip. The cost covers airfare, housing, breakfasts and dinners, entry to all the sites and museums, and transportation around the city. Students will need to purchase their own lunches, snacks and souvenirs.
At least 12 students need to sign up for the trip in order for it to take place, and Ms. Moynahan said that all 30 of her students who will be eligible for the experience have expressed an interest in going.
Mr. Kelly said the February date was recommended by the travel company and colleagues from other schools who have gone on similar excursions because the city is less crowded at that time of year.
The board postponed its vote on the trip until this week, when it was approved unanimously.
"This is an opportunity for students who have pursued the rigorous study of a classical language to see the language and culture come to life," he told the school committee.
Ms. Moynahan said her students are eager to go to Rome so they may see artifacts and buildings that they have only been able to see on computer screens and in books.
She said that the proposed trip is academic in nature, with an expectation of note-taking and the creation of presentations once the students return home.
"It's not just a trip," she said. "It aligns with the curriculum."
Members of the board had a positive response to the trip at its first presentation, though there were some questions and concerns.
Committee member Donald DiGiacomo asked if it might be possible to consider taking the trip in April instead of February since the proposed date could mean that student varsity athletes would be unable to go as it would conflict with mandatory tournament and competition commitments. He conceded that his concern was a somewhat selfish one—his own child is an athlete and would be qualified and interested in going to Rome.
Secretary Kristi Bader countered that athletes would potentially face the same problem in April.
Both stated that a potential problem with February is the possibility of inclement winter weather resulting in delayed flights or cancellations.
Ms. Moynahan said that the weather in Rome in February is warmer than Cape Cod and that there would be a cost increase to travel in April since it is a more popular time for tourists to go to the city due to Easter typically taking place during that month. She said she empathizes with the athletic concern and would be willing to discuss options with athletic director Neil Murphy. In the past, exceptions have been made for athletes to go on educational trips, she said, emphasizing that they are students first and athletes second.
Vice chairman Kerri L. Ames asked if students with any kind of disability or allergies would be barred from attending the trip if they were otherwise eligible to go. Ms. Moynihan said that they would not be barred from going.
Ms. Ames asked the board to hold off approving the trip at the meeting, citing that chairman Sean P. Rausch and member James J. Dever were not in attendance, that she would like to see a proposal with cost projections for an April trip, and that she wants more information about the impact to student athletes.
Mr. Kelly returned to the board at their most recent meeting with the answers to their questions.
He said that the company that has put together the prospective itinerary said that modifications could be made. For example, the company would be able to provide an itinerary that would be a trip of equal value that would be fully wheelchair accessible, if need be. When it comes to food allergies, the company offered to do any research in terms of food options and that the tour guide would be able to help communicate those allergies to restaurants, too.
When it comes to the February trip date, the company confirmed that the costs would increase if the trip were moved to April and that the area is much more crowded later in the season. Having more people in the area is a safety concern, particularly with pick pockets, Mr. Kelly said.
He said that he did speak with Mr. Murphy about the concerns for athletes and that the trip would be considered a school trip and would be excused, however athletes who choose to travel might find that they are not allowed to play their first game back compared to an athlete who chose to remain home and practice with the team.
Athletes would not be punished or otherwise penalized for choosing to go to Rome.
Mr. Dever moved to approve the trip, which was seconded by Mr. DiGiacomo. The board voted unanimously to approve the trip to Rome as presented.