Looser COVID restrictions means field trips are reopening

Julia Kado '24, Staff Writer

Trips Take Off: The Tower Belles head to Indiana, but not before performing at their Winter Spectacular on March 2, 2022. (Vince Matia)

As Covid begins to settle, things are beginning to open up, from the nation to local scale. With the mask mandate terminated at South, a sense of normalcy has returned. Adding to this is the return of field trips, which had been on hiatus due to the virus.

Peter Palen, history teacher, plans to take AP Euro students to the Detroit Institute of Arts during the spring.

“We’ve talked a lot about art, AP Euro is heavy on art,” Palen said. “We cover it all. The Baroque Period, the Late Baroque Period, Renaissance, Gothic, Pop art, so we really need this to be able to connect with the material.”

Palen intricately planned distinct parts of the trip. First, students will be able to have a headset-guided tour, next a tour shepherded by Palen.

“I love being able to show people around,” Palen said. “As a teacher, I think there’s sort of a natural docent built into me”

During the trip, they’ll be visiting a special exhibit called “By Her Hand”, one of the few exhibits that comes from the period they studied, but was created by a woman.

“It’s mainly Artemisia Gentileschi,” Palen said. “She was a renaissance painter, but she was a woman, so she was very much underrepresented. One major theme in her work is that it empowers women.”

Finally, they’ll end the trip with lunch at “Traffic Jam and Snug,” a restaurant in Midtown, because, as Palen said, no museum trip is complete without lunch.

“This has always been a special place for me because it’s where we had Lola, my daughter’s, baptism and rehearsal dinners for family events,” Palen said.

Palen’s looking forward to the opportunities the trip will present, and the community it will build.

“There’s something about being in an actual museum space and appreciating art,” Palen said. “It’s good for the soul.”

Mr. Campion, an English teacher at South, plans to restart a (years old) tradition of attending the Michigan Speech Coaches Inc’s annual Poetry slam, where South’s poets will spend a weekend at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

“We have had so many great poetic moments where one of our students blows the house away, just bringing down the house and having the house go nuts over her/his poem,” Campion said.

Campion believes that the competition is a great opportunity for having your work evaluated, and even improving public speaking skills as a whole.

“I think there’s nothing like having your original poems scored to really put things in perspective for a young writer, a young poet,” Campion said. “If you get up and do this, it’s so much easier to talk to your class, your peers, or even a bunch of adults. It just boosts your confidence.”

Not only do South’s students support each other throughout the competition, they are encouraged by Campion to ‘cheer their butts off’ for every single contestant.

“We’ve had other students where maybe they’re the only person from their school there, and they’re all by themselves, and all the sudden they feel like they’re a part of this community, and you can just see it… watching that connection happen is really important to me,” Campion said.

Attending a completely different competition is Ashton Fell, who recently went to Indiana with the South Singers, Tower Belles and Pointe Singers.

“I think it presented a chance to compete with friends and put on an excellent performance,” Fell said. “It definitely made me closer to people because it really is a group effort to do our best.”

Field trips build community, as how you act in specific spaces isn’t always the same, says Palen.

“Any time you travel with somebody, it forges a bond,” Palen said. “It builds community. You act (in) a different way when you’re out and about than in the classroom.”