Gabe Beausejour, a senior from Westpost, Massachusetts, and Zach Radka, a senior from Bristol, Rhode Island, have never traveled to Europe. On Wednesday with their Renaissance Florence History class, the two will fly in to Florence, Italy, for an eight-day adventure.
Their teacher, Sue McGann, first introduced the class in 2004, after spending a summer studying in Florence through a St. Andrew’s grant. McGann, who kept returning to the Italian city after her studies, sought out an opportunity to bring her own curriculum to life.
Florence seemed like the perfect fit: "It is a such a great city — small, compact, walkable, with history on every corner."
The students, who are all seniors, have spent the semester learning Italian and studying Florence's neighborhoods, art, architecture, and landmarks.
Susu Liu, a student from China, says while it is her most challenging class this semester, it has been “the most rewarding.” She can confidently discern the time periods of different Italian masterpieces, as well as pinpoint any building’s columns, balustrade, and cupolas.
When they arrive in Florence, they’ll continue to learn. The students will complete a project on a specific site in Florence. "It's amazing when they get there, the city is almost familiar to them after studying Florence for months," she said.
The seniors will take a cooking class, visit the Medici Chapel, explore the city's market, partake in a scavenger hunt at the Uffizi Gallery, and behold the city's masterpieces throughout museums and churches.
Through this semester-long course, the ten students cultivate a deeper understanding of the material. It is quite magical to "learn about Michelangelo in front of David," McGann said.
This course is not alone. Other courses at St. Andrew's offer a travel opportunity within the curriculum. In the last 35 years St. Andrew's students have traveled across the United States and the world to enrich their studies.