Students travel both near and far to enjoy their week away from school; others plan the perfect staycation

By Rachael Feinberg, ‘18, Kaitlyn Kincaid, ‘18 and
Libby Mislan, ‘17

Spring break is fast approaching, and students are spending it in a variety of different ways. Some are expanding their horizons beyond the typical Siesta Key trip and experiencing different cultures and service learning opportunities through school-sponsored trips to Iceland and Mexico while others are making the most of their time at home.

Iceland realSpring Break abroadExploring Iceland

Northern lights, cold temperatures, and summers where the sun never sets— these are the characteristics one might think of when he or she hears the word Iceland. However, students traveling to Iceland via the EF Tours trip over spring break are focused on another, lesser-known specialty of the country: renewable energy sources.

Students, along with Community School teacher and chaperone Lynn Reese, will attend a leadership summit in Reykjavik, where keynote speakers such as Canadian inventor Ann Stasia Makosinski and Malawian innovator William Kamkwamba will share their expertise on energy sustainability. Students will then interact with other students from the United States as well as from Iceland to exchange ideas about their projects to conserve energy.

Sophomore Megan Crouse is excited for the chance to exchange ideas with students from different backgrounds.

“I’m really looking forward to the summit where all the students from different schools come together and talk about our energy use,” Crouse said.

Following the summit, the students will travel around Iceland and experience the “touristy” side of the country.

Junior Alex Meyer is going on the trip primarily for the sightseeing. Meyer said she is most looking forward to seeing the northern lights and the glaciers. Other destinations include whale watching and a trip to the Blue Lagoon thermal bath spa.

The group has been hard at work preparing for the trip. They have had eight meetings in the past semester to learn about Iceland and energy sustainability. Crouse explained the process.

“First off, we had to identify a problem concerning energy use in Upper Arlington and then make a video about it,” Crouse said.

The video is meant to introduce the students and detail an energy problem they identified in their community.

Meyer is addressing the problem of leaving lights on after exiting a room and plugging phones and laptops into their chargers overnight, which she came up with while brainstorming with the group.

Reese discussed the benefits of the trip.

“Traveling, I think, especially for students, teaches lessons of empathy and culture that are impossible to recreate in the classroom,” Reese said.

Meyer agrees with the benefits of travel and is excited to expand her horizons.

“From what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard, it’s a very beautiful [in Iceland], so it’s just kinda seeing a new part of the world that I’ve never seen before,” Meyer said.

In addition to becoming more culturally aware, students hope to uncover new solutions to the energy problems they identified in preparation for the trip.

“I think it will inspire me to conserve my energy and inspire other people to conserve their energy as well,” Crouse said.

Mexico Mission Trip

The First Community Church is presenting a different type of opportunity. Their Mexico Mission Trip is a week of service and fellowship. Sophomore Kate Gomez will be going on the mission trip for the first time this spring break.

High school students and adults will be traveling to Tecate, Mexico to build houses for families living in poverty.

“We’re building houses and I am really excited to see the culture and help the families who live there, even if it is just by building a two-room house over five days,” Gomez said.

Participants of the trip are pushed to immerse themselves into the culture and environment of Mexico and are encouraged to step outside of their comfort zones. Students will be sleeping in tents under the stars, as well as trying authentic Mexican cuisine.

“I’ll come out of it as a better person from seeing others’ way of life and understanding that I can make a difference,” Gomez said. 

Service learning plays a key role at UAHS and in the world surrounding us. The mission trip is a chance for students to help others and gain a new perspective.

“Service learning builds character and is a big part of the world and it helps others which is really important,” Gomez said.

Though the students are going to help others and immerse themselves in Mexican culture, they are also going to improve upon existing friendships in their own group and provide reflection on their experience through journaling, group discussion, and fellowship.

“I’m super excited to grow upon my existing friendships within the group and really have a lot of fun all while helping others, it’s an extraordinary experience and opportunity,” Gomez said.

Relaxing at Home

Not every student is heading to the beach or abroad this vacation. While Columbus may not seem like the ideal spring break destination, with a bit of research, it’s possible to enjoy a break right here at home.

One reason a staycation can sound boring is because many students leave. Those who don’t have that same opportunity definitely notice that their classmates are leaving.

Junior Elizabeth Adams said, “It seems like I’m the only person staying home.”

Sophomore Katie Shrodes also felt like her classmates were leaving her at home alone over break.

“It seems like during spring break all of Upper Arlington travels down to the Florida,” Shrodes said.

Other students say the cause of their discontent is the location, rather than the lack of people.

“Ohio isn’t really a fun place to spend a vacation. I’d much rather live in North Carolina or California. Maybe then staying home over vacation would be better,” Adams said.

The weather over spring break can also make staying in Ohio over break miserable. From rain to snow to sun, Ohio weather, especially in March, can be unpredictable.

“The change in weather can definitely cause me to have to change my plans during spring break. Sometimes it can be hard to stay active if there is a snowstorm or if it rains the whole week,” Shrodes said.

One way to get out of the house and get some exercise is to head over to Vertical Adventures this spring break.

Vertical Adventures is an indoor rock climbing facility located twenty minutes away from the high school. It welcomes all climbers at all levels of experience, from beginners to experts.

Challenge yourself by trying to climb up the wall quickly or keep it casual and take your time. Either way, rock climbing at Vertical Adventures is one way to get off the couch and stay active this spring break.

If rock climbing doesn’t sound appealing, consider grabbing lunch or dinner at North Market.

North Market is located 15 minutes from the high school and is considered Ohio’s only true public market. There is a wide-ranging and eclectic variety of food that can transform a dull, everyday lunch into a new experience every time you visit.

“I love going to the North Market because each time I visit I can try a new thing,” Adams said.

There are many local activities to do over spring break. From rock climbing to exciting foods, there are various places to visit over break. Even if you can’t make it to the Florida Keys or Iceland this spring break, there are ways to make the time off school enjoyable right here in Ohio.

There are many possible spring break destinations. From Iceland to Mexico to right here in Columbus, Ohio, the opportunities to learn and enjoy yourself are endless. Whether you’re staying at home or traveling abroad, this spring break will be one to remember.