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The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

Field trips help immerse students in active learning environment

THROWBACK.+The+class+of+2026+does+some+dancing+in+their+8th+grade+Spanish+class.+They+went+to+Midtown+Global+Market+for+a+day+filled+with+learning+about+Latin+American+culture.+Spanish+classes+made+a+return+trip+last+year%3A+It+was+a+really+engaging+field+trip+and+you+saw+a+lot+of+culture.+In+classes%2C+there%E2%80%99s+only+so+much+you+can+do+without+a+true+Spanish-speaking+environment%2C+sophomore+Ryan+Shiroma+said.+%28Photo+submitted+by+Mackenzie+Bevins%29
THROWBACK. The class of 2026 does some dancing in their 8th grade Spanish class. They went to Midtown Global Market for a day filled with learning about Latin American culture. Spanish classes made a return trip last year: “It was a really engaging field trip and you saw a lot of culture. In classes, there’s only so much you can do without a true Spanish-speaking environment,” sophomore Ryan Shiroma said. (Photo submitted by Mackenzie Bevins)

From museums to farms to wastewater plants, field trips can be extremely important in the context of experiential learning. But, how do students find field trips more helpful than classes? How does the upper school use them effectively and what could they improve from the student perspective?

Sophomore Ryan Shiroma, a Spanish student, recalls his trip to Midtown Global Market last year as a highlight of Spanish III: “It was a really engaging field trip and you saw a lot of culture. In classes, there’s only so much you can do without a true Spanish-speaking environment,” Shiroma said.

On this field trip, Shiroma got to eat a variety of Latin American food, learn some dances, and practice speaking Spanish.

He believes language classes can benefit the most from field trips: “For any language class, you can see the culture and eat the food and it’s very beneficial to learning the language,” Shiroma explained.

Although Shiroma thinks upper school language classes use field trips very effectively, he wishes other classes would follow suit, especially in 9th and 10th grade. Two classes known for their field trips, Environmental Science and History of Refugee Communities, are electives only available for upperclassmen. Shiroma wishes World History I and II could have field trips as well: “[Field trips] would be really helpful for history class where you can see stuff instead of just reading a textbook. It would be more engaging to go to a museum or something,” he said.

Senior David Kopilenko, who’s in the History of Refugee Communities class, believes that History and Science classes benefit a lot from field trips because of the real-world applications in the curricula.

Kopilenko referenced the recent joint field trip with Environmental Science as one of his favorite off-campus experiences, albeit his only academic one during his time at SPA. He stated similar benefits when talking about the learning experience: “It’s active participation. It’s something that’s not just sitting down and looking at a slideshow of the place; you’re actually going and you can learn so much more by being there,” he said.

It’s active participation. It’s something that’s not just sitting down and looking at a slideshow of the place; you’re actually going and you can learn so much more by being there

— David Kopilenko

Shiroma’s biggest criticism of SPA is the lack of academic field trips. “I think there’s a lack of opportunities for most [upper school] students to learn outside of regular classes,” Shiroma said. Though he has enjoyed retreats and other fun field trips like the infamous third grade mystery bus ride, Shiroma wishes for more field trips with a focus on experiential learning. He explained that seeing or doing something specific off-campus for one of his classes is more valuable than going on a retreat, which can be done just as easily on campus.

However, Kopilenko thinks non-academic field trips are equally important: “Doing off-campus activities as a class can be so fun and are great for community building. Staying on-campus really limits what you can do and it takes away from the excitement because you don’t have school but you’re still staying in the building the entire day,” he said.

One thing both students can agree on are the benefits of field trips for classes. Although field trips can be difficult logistically, especially with recent bus shortages, they think SPA definitely has room to improve. Kopilenko has only been on two field trips throughout his time at SPA, only one of them being academic. Shiroma has been more fortunate as he’s taken a few, though mainly for Spanish class.

In summary, Shiroma said, “All the field trips I’ve been on are great, but SPA, especially the upper school, doesn’t have enough of them. I wish there were at least a few per year.” The last couple years have definitely had less field trips due to the pandemic and its aftermath, but students are hoping they will be able to experience more of them in the years to come.

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About the Contributor
Greyson Sale, News editor
Hi, I’m Greyson Sale (he/him). I work as a News Editor for the Rubicon Online. At school, I play soccer and run track, am a member of SoCLC, and am a member of the People for Environmental Protection Club. Outside of school, I love rock climbing and get to compete all over the country. I can be reached at [email protected].

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