United Kingdom 2018 - ISCA


A delegation of our middle school students, led by Head of Middle School Michael McLaughlin, spent three weeks in the United Kingdom as part of the ISCA international program. Here are highlights from their summer journey.
A note from Mr. McLaughlin: If you were to ask any of the Austin Prep students about their takeaways from their summer experience as part of the Independent Schools Cultural Alliance (ISCA), they will share stories about their new friendships with students in South America, their admiration for their British counselors who taught them sport and led their houses, and the three-week’s worth of history and heritage we took in across southern England.

The ISCA experience was likewise impactful for me as their group leader and teacher. As we prepared for our adventure and certainly throughout our month abroad, I got to know the students quite well. Overseas, I also connected with educators from Argentina, Brazil, Peru, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere in the United States. The dialogue and excitement was enriching and inspiring - with each day offering teachable moments. For example, after exploring the wards of Windsor and winding our way down the River Thames on a ferry, I had the opportunity to deliver a presentation on the Magna Carta. As a history major, I was “nerding out.” Here I was, at Runnymeade, very close to where King John affixed the royal seal in 1215 teaching the history to an audience of 150!

The trip was also special in that it afforded me time “in the field,” to research and write activities for the new course I am teaching at Austin Prep this fall, “Topics in Art History: The Art of Power.” Our ISCA journey seemed tailor-made for this course which will explore how the British crown has used various forms of art to communicate attributes of power over the last millennium. I will always be able to reference my guidebooks or scroll through the 1500+ photos that I took in July, but it was truly the immersive experience in England that stoked my long-held passion for this topic. One such moment was an independent day trip I made into London that I'll remember as "my royal day out." Click here for the story.


A Royally Good Time!

The theme of today’s visit to London could be summed up in one word: the monarchy. This was an appropriate focus for the visit as London celebrated the fifth birthday of Prince George, fourth in line to the throne.

Mr. McLaughlin and ISCA Staffer Rhian guided Austin students around the Westminster district. The group began their walk in Victoria Gardens aside the Palace of Westminster and were reminded of their tour of Parliament last week. Exiting the gardens, we passed statues of Emmeline Pankhurst of the Suffragette movement, King Richard the Lionhearted, and Oliver Cromwell. We paused inside the cloistered yard of Westminster Abbey - site of coronations, royal weddings like Prince William and Princess Catherine’s, and funerals like Princess Diana’s. We progressed up Parliament Street, site of the former Whitehall Palace, where we saw monuments like the Cenotaph, the Prime Minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street, and the Banqueting House where Charles I was executed during the English Civil War. We posed for pictures alongside Her Majesty’s Calvary at Horseguards Barracks before progressing up to Trafalgar Square for a view of the Admiralty Arch and Nelson’s Column. We then made our way up the processional Mall to Buckingham Palace in time to watch part of the ceremony of the Changing of the Guards. The officers looked sharp in their bearskin hats, polished uniforms, an smart red uniforms. We relaxed for lunch in the beautiful gardens of St. James’ Park.

In the afternoon, our royal visit continued with an outing to Hampton Court Palace, most memorable as one of the pleasure palaces of King Henry VIII. Students explored the massive kitchens and engaged with actors who were cooking a feast, paying the king’s bills, and preparing for surgery - giving an interesting perspective into life in Tudor times. In Henry’s State Apartments, students sat at the tables of the Great Hall and enjoyed a performance of Henry’s decision to marry Anne of Cleves. We also explored the richly appointed Waiting Chamber, the Haunted Gallery, and the Chapel Royal. The palace complex is extensive - students want to return one day to explore the rooms of the Hanoverian monarchs and of William and Mary. With another beautiful day in London, we ended our visit exploring the Maze, one of a number of interesting features of the 60 acres of manicured gardens that surround the palace. 

Posted by on Sunday July, 22, 2018

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Austin Preparatory School is a Catholic private school in Reading, MA for Middle School and High School students in grades 6-12. We seek to cultivate the hearts and minds of our young students and provide an environment in which our students can successfully learn, grow, and develop beyond the classroom.

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