Intrepid teens visit from West Coast

Published 10:57 pm Wednesday, March 12, 2014

From Washington state, middle-schoolers Isa Trujillo, Miles Epstein, Silas Gardener, Nick Spranger, Case Foster, Julia Ellison, Campbell Foster, Kasey Kirschling, Jacob Gold and Tor Ormseth, and, standing, teacher chaperones Erin Blaser and Leslie Blair, are staying at Cherry Grove Plantation in North Suffolk while exploring historical locales in Hampton Roads.

From Washington state, middle-schoolers Isa Trujillo, Miles Epstein, Silas Gardener, Nick Spranger, Case Foster, Julia Ellison, Campbell Foster, Kasey Kirschling, Jacob Gold and Tor Ormseth, and, standing, teacher chaperones Erin Blaser and Leslie Blair, are staying at Cherry Grove Plantation in North Suffolk while exploring historical locales in Hampton Roads.

A middle school group from near Seattle has been using Suffolk this week as a base from which to explore the rich history of Hampton Roads.

Ten students and two teacher chaperones from The Harbor School, an independent school on Vashon Island, Wash., are staying at Cherry Grove Plantation, on Chuckatuck Creek in North Suffolk.

Leslie Blair said it was the second time she had brought a group of students to the plantation.

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“At our school, we like to do a lot of travel study, and each spring we offer a variety of trips,” she said. “The one we chose to offer this year was the Historic Triangle.”

After arriving last Friday, the group has visited Jamestown — including the archaeological site and interpretive center — Yorktown Battlefield, Colonial Williamsburg, and on Wednesday they were planning to keep it more local, visiting Smithfield.

“We will stop … and get a map so we can take a tour of the beautiful houses,” Blair said. “Then (we’ll) do some shopping.”

The students are in grades six, seven and eight. It’s their first time to America’s First Region for all of them.

Though the island where they live is described as being like stepping back in time compared to the bustling city of Seattle, which is a short ferry ride away, the students were surprised by the sheer amount of history permeating Hampton Roads.

“It seems like there is a lot more history woven throughout the locations,” said Miles Epstein, one student in the group.

“We have a couple of museums (in Seattle), but we are new. It seems like everything is integrated and woven throughout the towns (here).”

Kasey Kirschling said he was impressed by the re-enactors, especially those in Williamsburg. “It gives people a better perspective on what it was like,” he said.

Embarking on the trips with smaller groups makes for more intense experiences, said Erin Blaser, the second teacher chaperone.

“As we see those huge tour buses roll in, we think, ‘That looks really luxurious,’ but it’s harder (with such large groups) to have the experiences we are able to foster with a small group,” she said.

Case Foster, another one of the students, said of the program: “It’s just a great way to make new connections with people who might not be in our grade.”