U.S. History trip being planned

Kellie Gross works to bring OPHS an east coast tour


Blake Hanlon/Talon

Possible options for locations of the trip include the east coast and the southeast, which center around locations of important events in America’s history.

Independent study teacher Kellie Gross, in collaboration with Education Foundation Tours, is working to bring a custom U.S. History tour to the students of Oak Park High School, which will be held over spring break. 

Planned to last about a week, the trip will be open to all high school grade levels. Since the trip is not hosted officially through the school, students are welcome to bring friends along from other school districts as well. EF Tours is a program that allows students to travel for educational purposes. The trip will be focused primarily on the rising junior class and will take students to places along the East Coast. 

It will be fast-moving, as there are lots of places for students to visit within a relatively short amount of time, according to Gross. Time taken to get from one place to another will play a factor in the trip’s overall timing, which is why the tour will be organized by region. 

Students will first visit areas in New England, centered around places they will learn about in the eleventh grade U.S. History course at OPHS. These spots were hubs of activity (battles, large cities and more) in the times of the Revolutionary War, which is why Gross decided to focus on them.

“We would go to Boston, New York, Salem, Philadelphia, Valley Forge, other parts of New Jersey besides Princeton and some more out of the way places that students may not have visited before,” Gross said. 

The tour will then continue on to areas in the southeast region, such as Richmond, Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown, Charlestown. Another option would be to go to Vicksburg as well as other areas deeper south. 

“The southeast [portion of the trip] would be a lot more of Civil War history because there weren’t as many Revolutionary War battles there. The other one would be much more centered around the Revolution and the founding of the country,” Gross said. 

Gross is currently trying to gauge the interest held by OPHS students before figuring out the logistics of the tour, such as exact prices. Her main concern is that Easter will fall during the week in which students will be on the trip, but believes that if people know that ahead of time the conflict can be avoided. 

“I think that would be a great opportunity for students to really grasp their understanding of the lessons taught in U.S. history,” sophomore Pam Wagner wrote to the Talon. “The trip can be seen as a way to learn about different places and see what’s outside of Oak Park.”

Gross has a degree in history and “love[s] it.” Gross was partially inspired to bring a custom trip to Oak Park because of her time in the South. There, she explained, one could drive by a battlefield or where momentous occasions within American history occurred and wants to allow students in Oak Park and the surrounding area to have a similar experience. 

“I believe that people are very visual and that you can use experiences to really solidify your information and your knowledge,” Gross said. “It’s great when you’re there and you’re like, ‘I’ve heard about this before, now it makes sense.’ Our country isn’t really all that old, but we have a very rich and diverse history, some good and some bad, and it is incredibly important for all of us to understand as much as we can.

If students are interested, they are encouraged to contact Gross via email ([email protected]) or stop by room H-14. She will later hold an informational meeting during a lunch period, though the date is currently to be determined.