Class of 2023 Continues Senior Tradition

Megan Rennegarbe, Staff Writer

The annual Okawville tradition of the Senior Class Trip has once again made the books. The Class of 2023 left early the morning of April 9th and headed to the nation’s capital. The first destination was the National Mall, followed by the White House. The seniors found the White House to be very unique and were impressed to be able to see it in person. Another favorite was visiting the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.  Walking up those famous steps and looking over the Reflecting Pool was definitely a sight to see. The students also had the opportunity to visit the FDR Memorial, MLK, Jr. Memorial, WWII Memorial, Korean War Memorial, and the Vietnam Memorial. After visiting all of these locations, mostly by foot, the students were extremely exhausted after a long, fun first day.

At the start of day two, the Class of 2023 went to Ford’s Theater, as well as had the opportunity to shop. Following the theater, there was a very impressive tour of the nation’s Capitol building and the beautiful architectural views of the outside of the Library of Congress and Supreme Court. The class then hit the bus to head over to Mt. Vernon to visit George Washington’s home as well as tour the historic town of Alexandria. While in Alexandria, the students went on an interesting ghost story tour through the town. After all of this, it was time to head back to the hotel.

On their last day in Washington D.C., the class visited Arlington National Cemetery and had the opportunity to witness the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Many found this experience to be very interesting and moving. Senior Jared Juenger said this about the experience, “I found this to be very memorable and made me more appreciative of those who have fought for our country. It was a great reminder, and I am glad we were able to go”. After the cemetery, they visited the Iwo Jima Memorial.  Then, it was off to New York. After the long bus ride, the class made it to the Big Apple and started off by visiting the Little Island, which gave a beautiful view of the city. When dark out, the students went to a building called The Edge and were able to travel up 100 stories to get a night-time view of the city. The view was absolutely breathtaking and a highlight of the trip. Afterwards, it was time to head back to the hotel to get some much needed rest. 

Day 4 was a full one kicked it off with the visit to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. The ferry then took everyone to downtown New York City. While walking through the city, the class learned and saw many unique things such as Wall Street and the Trinity Church where Alexander Hamilton was buried. Next up was the 9/11 Memorial which was absolutely breathtaking. All of the students were able to walk through the memorial and hear different stories and artifacts from that terrible day. Once finished, the class had the subway experience and ended up in midtown where they went to dinner at the Dallas BBQ. Afterwards, everyone had the chance to explore/shop before heading to the famous Times Square. Ellie Frederking said this about Times Square, “This was a once and a lifetime experience, and I am extremely grateful to have gone. Times Square was extremely surreal and definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip.”  Last, but not least, for the packed day was the Broadway show. This year, the students were about to watch Neil Diamond’s A Beautiful Noise. Everyone loved the show, and it exceeded many expectations. 

On day 5, the final day, the class started by visiting Grand Central Station. Afterwards was the walk about town, including the famous 5th Avenue and Rockefeller Center. Lunch from the various food trucks was next, followed by Central Park. Being able to physically stand in the park was a very unique experience for many of them after having seen it in various shows/movies. After the walk through the park, it was finally time to head back to southern Illinois. 

The Class of 2023 absolutely loved the trip and is extremely grateful for the experience. They are proud to have been a part of this Okawville tradition and hope the classes to come will have the same opportunity. The trip was well spent with their fellow classmates, and many feel it was a great way to bond before parting ways in May. The students are also very grateful to have spent the trip with their advisor, DeAnna Holm, for she made the trip exciting and memorable. Overall, the Senior Trip was an amazing experience filled with memories that will last forever.