Students Enjoy Once-in-a-Lifetime Trip to Alaska
By Vani Hanamirian, Marketing and Communications Student Intern
An experience beyond words is the best way to describe my 2022 Intensive Learning trip to Alaska in late March. Fifteen of us, along with two teachers (Physics Teacher/Science & Engineering Dept. Chair Jen Mosher and Math Teacher Larry Ottman) had the opportunity to explore the “coolest part of the world” in the words of Kendall Borbi ’22. From watching the Northern Lights to a wildlife cruise to the Alaskan Pipeline, museums, hikes, and moose, the Alaska trip was one to remember for all of us.
We began the trip on night one with a visit to the Aurora Pointe Lodge, which is just as it sounds: a Northern Lights-watching lodge (the Northern Lights are also known as the Aurora Borealis). Although we didn’t get to see the Northern Lights that night, it was a pivotal moment in our trip as we bundled up with anticipation for what was to come. We sat around a campfire in the two-degree weather watching not only the sky, but the faces of our peers we had just gotten to know on a new level in just 24 hours.
Before our visit to the lodge, we visited a moose antler arch to take a group photo. A simple photo was all that needed to be taken, but as a group we turned one photo into so much more. We turned it into a memory and a bonding experience. Smiles and laughs could be heard as we hiked through the snow to get to the arch. We were all in shock of the beauty that lay in front of us, (and also severely jet lagged and tired, so I can’t attest to how real the laughs were). It was our first real taste of wild Alaska.
The next day we went to the Alaskan Pipeline where our wonderful tour guide, Wade, exclaimed “I have never seen a group make this much fun out of a pipeline.” His words were very true. Students threw snowballs at one another, took photos with the pipeline, skated on frozen ice in sneakers, and embraced the nature that Alaska has to offer.
The next night we were lucky enough to see the Northern Lights. We stayed up from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. watching the sky being lit up by green streaks.
“Definitely the most amazing part was the second night viewing of the Aurora,” said Aidan Short ’23.
Time seemed to stand still for our group.
“It was a surreal experience and I don’t think anything could top it,” said Isabella Pescatore ‘22. “It wasn’t just magical because of the lights, but the people who were there. We were all tired, but together we watched the lights for hours and posed together to take pictures.”
Other highlights included a visit to a Musk Ox farm, which Aidan explained was “my favorite because seeing those animals up close was just breathtaking” he exclaimed. He was also able to get several photos of these beautiful animals (watch video interview).
We enjoyed a wildlife cruise during which we boated around Resurrection Bay, seeing animals like sea otters, mountain goats, and porpoises. We saw incredible views on our train ride from Denali to Anchorage. “My favorite part of the trip was the scenic train ride,” said Lia Marshall ’22. “Seeing all of the beautiful mountains gave me lots of inspiration for paintings!”
A final highlight of the trip occurred when we were able to go dog sledding. Students packed on the back of dog sleds and journeyed on a 30-minute ride around in the snow. “This was the highlight of the trip for me.” said Kendall. “Being out in the middle of the snow-covered woods in March with these dogs leading the sleds was incredible. I also enjoyed when we stopped and were able to pet the dogs and meet them. It was such a thrilling experience.”
It is hard to capture the whole trip in one piece, but this Alaska trip was an unreal opportunity for our group to bond and learn outside of the classroom. As Peter Tummarello ’22 summed up, it was “the best trip I’ve ever been on.”