Imagine it’s April vacation and you are admiring the “Mona Lisa ” in the Louvre in Paris…well, this could be more than a daydream.  The annual high school art trip led by K-12 Director of Art Mr. Thomas Carter, is a tradition open to all students at the high school. 

In the past, WHS art students have been to China, Morocco, all over Europe, and beyond. This year they are heading to France and Spain, specifically to the cities of Paris, Dordogne Area, Santander, and Madrid, during April break 2022. 

As this year’s trip spans Good Friday and Easter weekend, an extra day was added. Students will depart on April 11 and return on April 24. The extra day will be spent in Paris going to the much anticipated Paris food markets. Other activities include canoeing on the Dordogne River and observing Neolithic art in the caves of Spain. 

“We have an extra day in Paris, and I’m really excited because we are going to go to the food markets. The Paris food markets are just great because the fresh food’s out and then we are actually buying things there and that night we are going to a kitchen and a chef is going to teach us how to cook everything we bought, so that’s really special and fun,” said Carter. 

Carter enjoys seeing the students from all grades interacting with each other and becoming friends, as well as everyone getting to experience new things together. 

“For me the most memorable times are just to see the kids’ reactions to something they’ve always thought out. When we were in India, you know as a little kid one of the places I always wanted to see was the Taj Mahal so a lot of students had that same wish, and when we all saw it just the look on their face and stuff it was priceless,” said Carter.  

Art teacher Mr. Brian Reddy has chaperoned several high school art trips and is going again this year. He finds it difficult to pick his top trip memories as they have traveled to so many cool places, however, one experience in China stands out.

“The Li River cruise from our trip to China in 2019. It had incredibly unique mountains and atmosphere. I remember the day started rainy with dense fog; we could barely see the water. By the end of the day, sunlight had pierced the haze and the distinct mountains dramatically emerged”, said Reddy.

In the past, the one requirement to go on the trip was to have experienced art at the high school,but this year any student can attend the trip, which will continue to be art-centered and  include activities like sketching or journaling, and visiting multiple museums. In Paris, for example, Carter and the students are planning to visit six museums in a span of a few days. The artwork they see can often ignite a lot of emotion.

“I always joke when we go to Italy and when we go to Florence, I warn the kids I say, ‘I’m sorry, I’ve seen David about 12 times, but every time I see David, I tear up and cry’. It’s just such a magnificent piece of artwork. I love having kids have that interaction, like ‘Wow, I’m so amazed by it’” said Carter. 

For rooming accommodations, students will be paired up and are asked to give preferences of people they would like to stay with and also someone they’d like to get to know on the trip. At the first destination, students usually room with their preferred choice and then change roommates at the second destination. This process continues to alternate depending on how many locations students travel to. 

“Some benefits for students include immersing yourself in different cultures and challenging yourself to live ‘on your own,’ which are important to experience as much as you can early in life to develop your independence and empathy. Also, trying new foods and having adventures with friends are always good too,” said Reddy. 

Mr. Carter is hoping to take a full trip and there are still seven spaces left even though the application deadline has passed. If you’re considering going, reach out to Mr. Carter to get an application. Although the trip was planned for 2020, it was canceled due to Covid. Students must be vaccinated to enter France and Spain. 

“[This trip is]an experience of a lifetime. It’s really fun and you get to see some things that you may not see when you go on your own. Most people probably would not do three museums in a day,  but I look at it like this could possibly be the only chance the student gets to be in this country, and to see the art and their interests,” said Carter. 

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