Pine River students have world experience

CHICAGO – From a “Mexicanidad” guided tour to learning how to take public transportation, eighteen Pine River Middle School students gained a world experience two weeks ago.

The seventh- and eighth-grade World Language Club students traveled to Chicago to visit the National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago Art Institute, Navy Pier and the Willis Tower on April 12 and 13.

“It was exciting because, through grants, we were able to do some of the activities for free, “said Holly Henrickson, school Spanish teacher and club advisor. “This was the first time a couple of students had been out of Michigan, and the first time most of them had ever been to Chicago.”

The club, in its second year running at Pine River Middle School, has 35 student members and focuses on both French and Spanish language and culture, Henrickson said.

The group has taken a few in-state trips, but the Chicago trip came after Henrickson wanted to expand the student’s education to an out-of-state location. The trip cost each student $150.

While in Chicago, the group viewed paintings by artists they learned about in both French and Spanish class, such as Claude Monet, and Diego Rivera. They also viewed art recommended by school art teacher, Scott Buckmaster, such as Georgia O'Keeffe, Grant Wood's American Gothic, Claude Monet, Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso, Georges Seurat's Sunday on La Grande Jatte, Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, and many more.

The National Museum of Mexican Art guided tour taught students about all the elements of Mexican

culture, and the variances within the culture.

Students also visited Millennium Park, Navy Pier, Willis Tower (formerly named Sears tower), toured the Magnificent Mile, riding a train, city buses and walking everywhere they went.

“The students had a great time, but most of them say that, even though they would love to visit again, they can't see themselves living in such a big, busy city. It's a pretty drastic change from good old LeRoy,” Henrickson said.

One student realized first-hand how different the cultures really are when his steel-toed boots set off the metal detectors at the Willis Tower.

The Pine River School Board is responsible for authorizing the trip and funding the school bus trip to Grand Rapids to catch the train to Chicago.

The club plans to take a similar trip next year.