Northsiders Czech Out Prague On School Trip
by Kenny Larson
Although spring break may seem far too short for many Northsiders, that does not stop them from trying to make the most out of their vacation. This spring break, 12 Northside students had the opportunity to join Mr. Colin Hayes, Science department, and school clerk assistant Ms. Marion McCreedy, on a ten-day long trip to Prague to explore the fascinating history and culture of the Czech Republic. With a jam-packed agenda and exchange students to guide the way, the trip provided students a unique way to experience Czech culture.
During the trip, Northsiders were partnered up with another high school student living in Prague whom they lived with for the majority of the trip. While students attended their host’s classes, they also regrouped for tours of the many sights of the city. Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, has its origins dating back almost a thousand years, settled at the crossing point of the Vltava River. As such, the city is a perfect location for exploring historical architecture and a rich history of central European culture. Reflecting this sentiment, Ms. McCreedy said that the highlight of her trip was “just being able to walk around the beautiful city.”
During the tours, Northsiders traveled all across Prague checking out tourist spots. One of these locations included a giant metronome overlooking the historic Vltava River, which runs through the city center of Prague, famously regarded as a spectacular location in the city. Justin Ziegelmueller, Adv. 804, said that it was his favorite spot in the entire trip, and commented that it provided an “insanely beautiful view” over the city. In addition, students were able to step inside the renowned Czech Senate (the equivalent to the United States Senate) building, constructed in the 1400s that has been the seat of the Czech government ever since. Although the Czech Senate has existed in its current form only since 1996, it has already begun to generate substantial press because the elected officials have been unable to form a majority government (which their Constitution requires).
Although Northsiders remained in Prague for most of the trip, the group also left the city for a day to cross into Germany. While there, the visiting students had the opportunity to explore the city of Dresden. Historically, Dresden had been home to the palace of German royalty who had controlled the city for several centuries. After being entirely destroyed during World War II, the city was rebuilt by Soviets in then-East Germany. As such, much of the architecture has Soviet influence and provides an interesting contrast between German and Soviet stylings.
Apart from all of the tours, one of the most reportedly unique parts of the trip was being able to live with other Czech high school students and their families. As such, students were able to gain a more authentic feel of the Czech lifestyle, and be able to experience the culture firsthand. Moreover, it also gave the Northsiders more flexibility in choosing where in the city they wanted to visit, and be able to do so with locals who could provide unique insight into the best spots to visit “[Prague] is sort of not the first place you think of when you think of a vacation,” said Ziegelmueller, commenting on his exchange student, “but it’s perfect for an exchange because having a student to [take] you around places is really helpful.” On a similar note, Ziegelmueller also mentioned that he really enjoyed meeting his student and that his “family was super hospitable and did a great job.”
While Prague may not be widely known as a popular vacation destination, the city is a unique spot for anyone interested in fascinating historical buildings, rich culture, and friendly people. Ziegelmueller was also sure to mention how supportive and helpful Ms. McCreedy and Mr. Hayes were as advisors on the trip, stating that they did a “great job on the tours and handled logistics really well too.” Ms. McCreedy also said that she enjoyed being able to interact with the other students while on the trip and develop personal connections with them. “[We had] numerous conversations about travel and culture” said Ms. McCreedy. “It was a small group so we got to have intimate conversations.”
Although nothing is certain, thanks to popular demand and overwhelming support from students, the Prague trip is on the table for being brought back next year, which Ziegelmueller and Ms. McCreedy highly recommended to students considering visiting. “The entire trip just had this indescribable quality,” said Ziegelmueller. “The feeling of being somewhere else in the world is a profound one.”