Zoe Hua and Julia Grant

The DC trip has been the highlight for middle schoolers attending BF and GW for many years. However, due to the pandemic, many things have changed in the capital. Even without the deadly virus circulating, DC has been a magnet for tourists and the overall atmosphere has grown unsafe. Although this year’s graduating class never got to go in 2021, Mrs. Stovell, one of our cherished vice principals here at BF, has worked to provide the 8th grade with a new trip that will be filled with sightseeing and fun activities. In the works since December, this trip is a great opportunity for kids to bond with friends outside of school and give them a sense of independence. Say goodbye to DC and say hello to Mystic because this 8th grade trip is going to be one for the books.

Mystic Connecticut is known for its New England Charm, as well as two of Connecticut’s most visited attractions, the Mystic Seaport and Mystic Aquarium, which BF attended. They have a lively downtown and it is a great place for walking around and enjoying shops. The 8th grade left  on June 1, and stayed for 2 nights until their return to Ridgewood on the 3rd. 

Prior to the trip, some students were asked about their overall feelings towards it. Here were some of their thoughts:

When asked if they were excited, one student, Grace Freeborn, stated, “I am excited, I’m feeling really excited for the trip. I feel like it’s such a special thing, and we’ve been waiting for this since 7th grade.” When students were asked what they were excited about, 8th graders Aarini Bhatia and Ava Delmonaco both stated that they were excited to go to the aquarium and see all the creatures.

However, some students felt differently compared to the general populace. “I feel that the activities that were picked weren’t the most fun choice, but I think we’ll have a fun time at night and on the bus.” stated 8th grader Molly Notaro. Similarly, Addison Brown gave her thoughts saying, “I’m excited to see my friends, but I feel like it’ll be a lot of walking and might not be as fun as you think.”

The Mystic Aquarium, one of Connecticut’s most visited attractions, was a great and educational spot for BF students on the first day of the trip. Students got to interact with stingrays, sharks, starfish and all different types of fish in touch tanks, as well as feeding some of the bigger animals like Beluga whales, Dolphins and seals. The location of the Aquarium was extremely convenient because it was about 100 ft from Olde Mistick Village! Mistick Village is an outdoor venue with shops, boutiques, eateries and seasonal events in a throwback village setting. The whole thing was connected through different paths, and the restaurants, gift shops, boutiques and toy stores were amusing to walk through. After the Village, the 8th graders visited the Seaport Museum which consisted of a reimagined waterfront settlement spot lighting a 19th century village, historic ships, and more. Wandering around and through the houses was a fun adventure with some educational elements. The seaport museum featured the Charles Morgan Ship, the oldest commercial ship in the U.S and the last whaling ship left in the world, which BF students got to walk on! The planetarium there was a fun interactive experience while giving students a great amount of information about the stars in the night sky. The final activity on the first day in Mystic was the Mystic Moonlight Haunted Ghost tour. During this chilling experience, students learned about the dead soldiers and families that haunted the graveyard that they were in. Day 1 in Mystic was truly memorable because of all the great activities.

After well night’s rest, the first destination for day 2 was the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield Massachusetts. There, students got to tour the exhibits and even play some basketball on the courts. Afterwards, they headed to Old Sturbridge Village, a living museum which recreates life in rural New England during the 1790’s through 1830’s. With it being the largest living museum in New England, covering over 200 acres, there was much to explore. Concluding the second day of the trip, the 8th graders headed over to Spare Time Entertainment in Windsor Locks Connecticut. They were given unlimited-swipe cards and the freedom of going wherever they wanted in the building. Some would say that hanging out with friends while eating greasy pizza and chicken tenders under the fluorescent lights of the arcade machines was a great way to end the last night of the trip. 

The same students were questioned regarding their opinion on how the trip went. When asked what their favorite part of the trip was and why, the answers were varied. Some brought up the Mystic Village saying, “I loved the town where we got to walk around in on the first day because I got to spend time with friends and we went to such a good place for lunch.” Others also mentioned the arcade and bowling was the most exciting.

There were a lot of expectations and build up for this trip so it was important to ask if Mystic met, exceeded, or fell short of their expectations.  Most said how the trip either met or exceeded their expectations. Ava Delmonaco explained, “It was pretty much what I was expecting but some parts of the trip were really fun and other parts, like the ghost tour, I had higher hopes for. But it was more of the people you hung out with that made it fun.” 

The trip is over but there were some things these students would change, if given the chance. Something that Addison Brown would change is, “I wish there was a night where we could have gone somewhere fancy and got dressed up like what they used to do for DC”. While I’m sure many students felt similarly, there will be a couple of opportunities to get dressed up in the near future! One student, Grace Freeborn, felt the opposite of these girls stating, “I don’t think I would change anything. I really loved it!!” It’s so nice to see that people really enjoyed this trip and had a great time. 

Finally, these students were asked to rank the trip on a scale of 1-10 on how fun it was. The average score was an 8!

I think it can be said for everyone that the 8th grade mystic trip was a blast! Although Washington D.C. was the original destination, Mystic deserves all of its hype. While some enjoyed Mystic more than others, I think that everyone walked away with some fun experiences at the attractions, activities, or just by spending time together as a grade. Thank you to Mrs. Stovell for giving up this opportunity to create some unforgettable memories.