Meaningful Connections: Eighth Grade Students to Embark on Boston Learning Journey

Each year at Mount Madonna School (MMS), eighth grade students and MMS faculty participate in a learning journey to historic Boston, Massachusetts. The 2023 trip is planned for April 16-21, and  teacher Chrislaine Miller will lead this history trek. 

During this week-long trip, students travel around Boston and surrounding cities to visit public history sites of colonial and revolutionary events and other more recent cultural sites that highlight the history of the people in the United States. Since Boston is a city that experienced slavery, revolution, war and abolition, these travel experiences deepen student understanding of the foundational arguments for freedom and democracy, a core theme in the eighth grade U.S. history curriculum. Students also get to be part of a unique experience with their classmates that contributes to our mission at Mount Madonna School: to foster creative, intellectual and ethical growth in all students.

With packing and preparations underway, some of the participating students shared a glimpse into what they are thinking about as regards to this history tour and new travel experience. 

What are you most looking forward to?

I am most excited about seeing places where the battles of the American Revolution were fought” –  Vaden Barr

“I’m looking forward to getting out of the state and seeing Boston, and I’m also excited to bond more with my class during the trip.” –  Indi Vargas

What do you think a locals’ first impressions of your group will be?

“That we are a very nice group of eighth graders.” –  Theo Esposito 

What would you want people to know about you that would surprise people?

I want people to know that I like to travel.” –  Sapphire Feuerborn

What can you do to ensure you’re an excellent ambassador for Mount Madonna School in Boston?

I can stay respectful to all the people on the street, as well as the actors and presenters that are teaching us about American history. I can also watch where I’m going and try to not inconvenience any people while we are out and about.” –  Solomon Coleman

Being an excellent ambassador to Mount Madonna School means I will be respectful to the environment (being clean) and community (listening to others), not disturbing the historical sites we see, and being trustworthy to my classmates and teachers.” –  Kenzie Culbertson

What are the benefits of traveling as a class?

We will be able to build stronger friendships and deeper connections.” –  Victory Gulizia

“We can all look out for each other” –  Theo Esposito

What strategies can you use to overcome challenges traveling as a group?

“We must be respectful and put forward a collective effort to respect one another’s personal space.” –  Kiko Horne

What do you want your child to get out of an experience like this?

“I hope my daughter develops an appreciation for the history and struggle that helped birth this great nation! I hope she learns and has a great time with her peers and her outstanding teaching staff! I want her to return with newfound gratitude and a renewed commitment to improving this country for the next generation. I want her to understand that this republic is in need of participation, hard work, and at times struggle to keep it moving forward in a positive direction. –  parent Robert Culbertson 

The first MMS Boston Learning Journey took place in 2018, when Mount Madonna’s current senior students were in eighth grade. Recently, several seniors reflected on their experience; following are excerpts from their reflections.

What do you remember from the Boston Trip?

“Throwing fake tea boxes off the replica of the Boston Tea Party ship.” – Bella Cambell

“I remember all the walking and hanging out with my class and going to multiple museums. There were good conversations with all of the chaperones and a really nice hotel that we stayed at. I remember the tea party reenactment, Walden Pond and John Adams’ grave. Boston was cold! – Sam Kaplan

“I remember going to Salem, and visiting the Louisa May Alcott house.” – Cecily Kelly

“What I remember most from the Boston Trip was our trip to Louisa May Alcott’s house and Walden Pond. It was very beautiful and historic there. I enjoyed traveling to Chelsea Market and the Frederick Douglass Museum. I really enjoyed seeing all of the historic sites and old architecture.” – Zoey Ocampo-Sobkoviak

What have you learned about yourself by going on Mount Madonna School trips?

“I have learned that I love to engage with new places, people and experiences. Living in a different way for a period of time can be very informative and insightful.” – Jacob Sirk-Traugh

“I have learned how to live with other people who have different living styles and may not value the same things in terms of hygiene or tidiness and how to pay attention and try to learn even when I’m tired and want to sleep. I have learned what my needs are, and how to tell people when and what I need if it’s actually important.” – Mariah Cohen

“I do well in group situations, but I also need breaks from people sometimes. I have learned how to respect other people’s personal space, and be respectful of how I am impacting shared spaces.” – Cecily Kelly

“I’ve learned how important ‘community’ is.” – Sky Weir

“I love traveling and experiencing new places, especially when they are full of natural or cultural history. I have also learned that I can struggle to spend a lot of time with the same group of people, but this can also deepen friendships. After experiencing these trips, I can apply what I learn in the classroom to the real world and prior preparation helps me be more curious during the experience.” – Zoey Ocampo-Sobkoviak

Now that you have experienced the learning journey to India, what advice do you have for current eighth grade students about preparations for traveling with their classmates, teachers and parents?

“Have an open mind, make the best of each and everything that happens, the good and the bad. Talk to new people, and learn from them and what they have to offer, everyone has a story.” – Sky Weir

“Create routines for yourself and respect the routines of others. Don’t take everything that your classmates say too personally; everyone’s a little grumpy when traveling and people don’t always mean what they say.” – Sam Kaplan

“Take every opportunity you can because you’re going to look back and be happy that you did; and brush annoyances off easily, so they don’t get in the way of your experience.” – Bella Cambell

“Keep an open mind, try to push yourself intellectually and socially, and try to remember that this is a group trip so your own individual needs are not the most important things at every given moment. Trips become more enjoyable and more meaningful when you open yourself up to new experiences and focus on the positives rather than the challenges you experience. However, that does not mean that you shouldn’t give yourself time to rest and honestly check in with yourself on a daily basis. Also, don’t be a problem! Your actions affect the rest of the people around you, and you can have fun, but be respectful. – Zoey Ocampo-Sobkoviak

“Try to go into the trip with an open mind and not be scared of being a little bit uncomfortable. Traveling is hard, and it can get tiring, but all of the Mount Madonna trips are so worth it as long as you keep a positive attitude.” – Cecily Kelly

“Make sure to really put yourself out there and go outside your comfort zone as it can be very rewarding. In India, I learned and performed a choreographed dance at an Indian wedding which I would normally never do, and found the experience very neat.” – Jacob Sirk-Traugh


Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, director of marketing & communications,

Nestled among the redwoods on 355 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a diverse learning community dedicated to creative, intellectual, and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believe a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville. Founded in 1979.