Sacred Heart students enjoy trip across the pond


 While Sacred Heart School offers its students many unique opportunities, a trip abroad with teacher Betsy McIntire may be the most unique and important. It is to McIntire.

This year’s trip, which fell the day after graduation in May, found 11 students making a trip to England and Scotland. In two years, another group will return, but will go off in a different direction.

While many of the students who take the trip are recent graduates who received the trip as a graduation gift, McIntire has also taken younger students, but usually no younger than high school sophomore. This year’s trip made the 12th for McIntire, who started the program when she taught at Jackson Prep. This was the fourth such trip for Sacred Heart students.

This year’s trip took the group to Manchester, York and the Lakes District in England, while visits to Edinburgh and St. Andrews were on tap for Scotland.

The group flew into Manchester, where they enjoyed seeing the city and Old Trafford Stadum where the Manchester United Soccer team plays. They later journeyed to York, England, where as they prepared to go to bed, they heard the news of the Manchester bombing at the Ariana Grande concert.

“It was absurd to think that we were in the same area just hours before the attack,” said Cade Slaughter, a recent graduate who made the trip. “This tragedy was certainly present in our minds throughout the trip, but the resilience of the English people was so apparent that we found a certain comfort in our travels.”

While in the Lakes District, Slaughter said they saw the two homes of Poet William Wordsworth and some of the students went zip lining. The group also stayed the night in Otterburn Castle, a medieval castle which has been turned into hotel and event space. Other sites were England’s northern country and Hadrian’s Wall.

“In two years we’ll head west to Stratford and Bath,” said McIntire, who always incorporates a ruin, a castle, a cathedral and a manor house in her travels. She also tries to incorporate particular areas or sites the students have expressed an interest in, such as Alnwick Castle, where scenes from the Harry Potter movies were filmed. A photo memory shows students riding brooms similar to what the Hogwarts’ characters did when playing quidditch in the movie.

For the 10-day trip, with eight on the ground, McIntire who teaches AP English/Literature and Humanities, pulls in a variety of educational moments, whether paintings of the period, architecture of stained glass in the windows they see, the language or invaders of the land.

“We’ve done King Arthur and Loch Ness,” she said. “It’s all inclusive – from the bedrock of Britain to the modern world, including the politics and royals from both time periods.

“I want them to know that learning is always active and engaging and not scary. And also that there is a world outside the Pine Belt.

In many instances, students who have made these trips to McIntire go back across the pond for graduate school or continue to pursue interests from far away.

Slaughter, who was valedictorian of the Sacred Heart Class of 2017, said “Mrs. McIntire puts on such a wonderful and organized trip, and it's honestly something that our school takes a lot of pride in,” said Slaughter “It's almost like a right of passage to go on one of her trips!” 

Slaughter said McIntire used the trips to teach the students “curriculum as well as life lessons. Her classroom was always a safe zone for me and my classmates.”