Field Trips: A Unique Way to Learn

Mira Ponnambalam ’26 (Features Associate) in Features | May 26, 2024

         In most American elementary and middle schools, field trips are a staple of every year. They bring the excitement of leaving the classroom and exploring a new place. However, because Lawrenceville is a boarding school, field trips become more complicated, demanding more planning and permissions to take students off campus. Some field trips are for classes, while others are just for fun. This year, a number of classes have embarked on excursions in the nearby regions.

         The French department has offered two trips this year in the Fall and Winter Terms. Celestine Sutter ’27, who has “always enjoyed field trips,” attended this fall’s production of Portrait de Ludmilla en Nina Simone at the 2023 Seuls en Scène, a French theater in Princeton. For those still learning French, each show projected English translations. Sutter “set a goal to be able to eventually understand [the content] without the translation.” The trip provided students a unique, entertaining style for learning a language. In many ways, the School is separated from the outside world, and Lawrenceville students often find it difficult to make time for exploring the outside world during the school year. As a result, Sutter enjoyed being able to “get out of the bubble for a little.” The arts are often a powerful educational tool for language. 

         The same is true for the history and social justice departments. On May 5, a group of students traveled to Harlem, New York. Though the trip was intended for Hutchins Social Justice scholars, the opportunity was open to the entire Lawrenceville community. The excursion included a historical walking tour of Harlem, followed by a showing of Hell’s Kitchen, a new Broadway Musical inspired by famous singer Alicia Keys’ life. Mimie Pinpakornkul ’25 found that “it all just came full circle,” tying the historical events featured in the musical to the walking tour. Pinpakornkul, who is interested in both the arts and social justice, also noted that the show “humanized history” for her.

         Of course, the theater classes at Lawrenceville also attended shows to learn more about the craft of performance and technical design. On March 22, students in performing arts classes attended Dream Girls. Mila Cooper ’26, one such student, loved getting “to see such amazing singers, really nice costumes, lighting, and staging.” The trip brought all the material they had studied that term to life. Cooper noted that learning about the lighting in the show “made [her] much more aware of it when watching other shows.”

         On that same day, an entirely different trip transpired to the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton for the 400-level Biology classes. Rachel Deoki ’25 recalled seeing Trenton for the first time, saying she “never knew Jersey could look this way that it could have a city.” At the Museum, the students had to choose a species to focus on for their upcoming project on the effect of urbanization on various species. After exploring the life-size mockups of aquatic species, such as octopuses and walruses, Deoki and her partner chose to focus their research on marine animals. Deoki was amazed that the people working at the Museum were “equipped to answer all of [the students’] questions, ranging from specific ones posed by the high schoolers to ‘what does the brush do?’ posed by a middle schooler.” 

         Field trips can bring lessons from a classroom or textbook to life. They are an engaging way for students to engage with schoolwork through the arts or by meeting an expert on the topic, and the exposure to the external world provides the students with a new lens to look at the things they learned and remind them of real-world applications.