Spending a total of 10 hours on a bus in one day doesn’t sound like much fun.
It was the time in between, however, that was the highlight of the day, the week and even the year for 43 Rockland High School freshmen and seniors who saw the Broadway hit, To Kill a Mockingbird at the Shubert Theatre in New York City on Wednesday, Dec. 19.
Organized by RHS English teacher, Kristen Walsh with assistance from fellow teacher, Amanda McDonough, the trip to NYC went without a hitch as students got to see some of the city’s Christmas decorations at Rockefeller Center, and also visited the famous toy store, FAO Schwarz. They also strolled through Times Square on their way to the 1 p.m. matinee.
The play, which began its official run on Broadway in December, stars Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch and is produced by Aaron Sorkin. Based on Lee Harper’s To Kill a Mockingbird, it is faithful to the plot, setting and characters, but updates some of the dialogue and characterizations, particularly that of Atticus and Calpurnia, the Finch’s maid, to reflect a slightly different look at the racial prejudice of those in Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930’s.
Students had read the book as freshmen and seen the classic film starring Gregory Peck, and were able to discuss the differences in this version, and whether they were appropriate to Harper’s story and its themes.
Ms. Walsh was pleased with the students’ responses to the play. “The English Dept. at Rockland High is always looking for ways to bring stories to life, and this was the perfect chance to do so.”
One added bonus for RHS students was seeing former Vice President Joe Biden who attended the play and afterwards greeted many of them who were waiting outside the Stage Door to catch a glimpse of him. One student even got a selfie taken with him.
Rockland High School Principal Dr. John Harrison saw the trip as an excellent experience for students. He said, “This was a great opportunity for our students to visit New York City and see the play on Broadway which further enriched student understanding of this classic novel.”
Dr. Harrison also cited the teachers and staff who planned the trip and accompanied the students. “Thank you to Ms. Walsh and Ms. McDonough for coordinating the trip and Ms. Carlson, Ms. Penney, Ms. Collins, and Ms. Lannin-Cotton for assisting as well with supervising our students.”
In all, it was a great day. Ms. Walsh, who is also advisor to RHS’ travel club said, “Most students had never been to New York City let alone a Broadway show, so in addition to the connections to the curriculum, it was a culturally minded trip that I hope broadened their horizons.”