Darren Doyle, Zack Ryle, story
Forty-eight Gatton Academy students, including ECHS Senior Mackenzie Daniels, have returned home following a 23-day study abroad program to London and Harlaxton College in Grantham, England.
Accompanying the students on the trip were Professor Walker Rutledge, WKU Department of English, and Derick B. Strode, Tori Hampton, Chloe Muller and Alex Sorrels of The Gatton Academy.
The Gatton Academy has offered this study abroad program to rising seniors annually since 2011. Students who choose to go on the program take an Honors-designated section of English 200: Introduction to Literature course. The program is structured so students are in class one day studying a specific author and literary work and on a field trip the next day immersed in the literary setting of the piece, walking in the author’s footsteps.
Daniels, the daughter of Matt and Lysette Daniels of Chalybeate, discussed some of the places she visited.
"We stopped at different authors' homes and birthplaces, and different places that inspired the writing of the novels or short stories we read," said Daniels. "One day we hiked the moors because we read "Wuthering Heights and we visited the Brontë's (the author) home. We actually saw the building at Wuthering Heights."
The students spent their first week of the course in London. On days out from London, the class went to Chawton to see Jane Austen’s home, Winchester to see the Winchester Cathedral and riverside Keats’ walk, Bath to take in several Jane Austen sites, and Oxford for a tour of sites associated with C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Harry Potter series.
"In London, we went to typical London places with my friends, actually on my birthday," she said. "We went to the London Eye (Ferris Wheel) and we ate fish n' chips like London teenagers would."
Following London, the students were based at Harlaxton College for the final two weeks. This majestic manor allowed the students ample space to roam and interact during the times when class was not in session. From Harlaxton, field trips were taken to sites associated with John Bunyan, D.H. Lawrence, Kenneth Grahame, Shakespeare, Byron and the Brontës.
Daniels said her favorite part of the trip was the moors. "The English countryside was really nice. We hiked three or four miles. It was just pure in nature and very pretty."
The Gatton Academy will host four study abroad programs during the 2016-2017 school year — two study abroad programs to Costa Rica in January; a travel abroad program to Greece in January; and a study abroad program to England and Harlaxton College from late July to early August.
She said the Gatton Academy at WKU has really challenged her in her studies and has allowed her to gain real-life experience in an adult world.
"It's allowed me to level with adults a lot more," she said. "I feel comfortable now in conversations with people in the workforce, and I have a better understanding of future possible careers. "When I visit colleges now, I feel really ready. It's been a really good stepping stone between high school and college."
She hasn't decided on what college she'll be attending just yet, but right now she said she's leaning toward the University of Kentucky. She said her plans are to enter either the pharmaceutical or pre-med field.