St. Augustine


Mr. Hagy

Sixth-graders take in the view of the Mantanza River from the top of Castillo de San Marcos.

For the first time in the six-year history of the trip, the sixth graders spent the night in St. Augustine on October 17. In the years previous, it was simply a day trip for the middle school division’s youngest students. 

“I think that it was a better experience for the students to have a two-day trip,” said sixth-grade history teacher Mrs. Chrissie Ferguson. “We were able to pack in more information and more visits.” Ferguson, who started teaching at Benjamin last year, was one of the teacher chaperones on the trip both last year and this year.

Mr. Hagy
Sixth-graders pose in front of Memorial Presbyterian Church, which was highly anticipated by the whole group?

One of the new historical locations that the students visited this year was Potter’s Wax Museum, which recreates historical figures and events in wax. Another new historical location the sixth graders enjoyed was the pirate museum. At the museum, they saw what the lifestyle of a plundering thief would be like throughout the evolution of the city.  

“It was interesting to learn about the history of Florida through the museums” said sixth Grader Deven Maharaj.  

“I enjoyed going through the Wax Museum – it was pretty cool because we got to see Rambo and Martin Luther King, Jr.,” added fellow sixth grader Dylan Bennet.

Head of Middle School Mr. Charles Hagy feels the students benefited more from an extended stay in the world’s oldest continuous settlement.

“We have been planning to take the sixth graders on an overnight trip for many years,” he said.  “They spent a lot of time studying Spanish in Florida and Henry Flagler. Last year was a challenge to see if we could get the kids through one day, and my concern was that it wouldn’t be educational enough,” said Hagy, who also teaches seventh-grade history.

The sixth graders did not disappoint, earning high praise from fellow travelers.

“One gentleman in the hotel came up to me and asked me who was in charge of the students and I thought, ‘Uh oh,’” said Hagy. “But when I told him I was in charge, he said he was nervous to see such a big group of kids at the hotel when he checked in, but that they behaved wonderfully, so I couldn’t be more proud.”

Because they are expected to write an essay about the city upon their return, all of the sixth graders had a St. Augustine field guide where they kept notes and important information from what they learned in their tour throughout the city.

“Every time we passed by Flagler [College],” said Bennett, “we had a packet to fill out.”  Henry Flagler built the Florida East Coast Railway that traveled from Daytona to Key West. Flagler was also an instrumental part in fully developing the East Coast of Florida.

Mr. Hagy
A group of sixth-graders enjoy their ghost tour of St. Augustine.

Many of the students enjoyed the trip.

“I’m really happy that we went overnight because I got to stay in the hotel and I had a lot of fun with my friends,” said sixth-grader Kenna Kujawa.  Fellow sixth-grader RJ Pierman enjoyed one event that the sixth grade participates in every year, which is drinking out of the “Fountain of Youth.” 

“It was kind of cool,” he said, “thinking that the natives drank that water.”

“It was my first overnight trip, so it was exciting,” said Bennett.

Current eighth-graders that went on the trip in sixth-grade agree that an overnight trip makes more sense. 

“There was a lot of stress trying to fit everything into one day and having an overnight trip makes it a lot easier for students to learn,” said current eighth-grader Claire Dinh.

By staying overnight this year, the sixth graders not only had the opportunity to see more of St. Augustine, but they proved to the teachers and administration they were up to the task.

“I think the kids learned valuable lessons in maturity and leadership,” said Hagy. “They did a really wonderful job.”