Eighth Grade planning first “Summit Trips” in May

Joe Lister

Groups will go to Cazenovia, New York; Philly; and Nicaragua as they reach the “Summit” of their Middle School experience.

For the first time, eighth grade students will finish the school year with five-day summit trips to Nicaragua, Philadelphia, and Cazenovia, New York scheduled for May 22-26 as a capstone for their experience in the Middle School.

The goal of these trips is to give students greater knowledge of the world around them, according to history teacher and Cazenovia trip leader Mr. Jeffrey Carroll.

Eighth Grade Dean Mr. Robert Buscaglia said he hopes that the trips will be a preview for the Upper School. Buscaglia is the leader of the trip to Managua, Nicaragua where a group of thirteen students will explore Managua and the surrounding area.

For Buscaglia, the experience is very familiar.

“I was a Peace Corps volunteer, and I also ran a nonprofit that brought students from different schools to Nicaragua,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to create an experience where I brought Malvern students to Nicaragua.”

Buscaglia said that the Malvern students will spent some time in a school in Managua to greater understand their culture. “It just seemed like kind of a great way to explore another place, spend some extended time together as a class, and it’s a great way to connect with the Augustinian brotherhood abroad.”

Buscaglia said that he was surprised by the amount of interest in the trip.

“I only wanted to take ten students, and there was so many that I ended up expanding it to thirteen,” he said. “I probably collected about twenty two applications.”

Even though Buscaglia had more students than he expected, he says that they’ll do less than he originally planned.

“We had grander plans,” he said. “But looking at how much time we had, we had to shrink them down.”

Buscaglia also said that judgement of who came on the trip and who didn’t was not based on their performance in Spanish class. “I think language doesn’t have to be the most important thing here,” he said. “I never put language as a criteria.”

Eighth grader Christian Curatolo says that he’s enthusiastic for the opportunities that Nicaragua offers. “It’s going to be awesome,” he said. “I’m looking forward to connecting with new people and expanding my vocab in Spanish.”

The Nicaragua group will take several excursions, including one to the Apoyo Lake, which was formed in a drowned volcanic crater. “That will be fun,” Curatolo said.

Connecting with foreign students will be another experience that Curatolo is looking forward to. “I’d like to see what they do for fun,” he said.

Mrs. Lori Trexler is completing her first year of teaching at Malvern, and will be leading the students who are staying local for their Summit Trip experience.

“I think that’s it’s going to be a fun opportunity,” she said. “[It’s] a good way to end the year.”

Trexler says that the students will have many experiences during their one week timeline.

“We’re going to canoe down the Brandywine river, we are going to a Blue Rocks game,” she said. “And the other three days are going to be spent here on campus.”

Those days on campus will be spent doing several activities, including making ice cream to figure out the best process, day hosting elementary school students from St. Patrick’s to teach them how to make ice cream, and on Friday the completion of a reflective art project.

Many of these activities, Trexler said, lead back to the eighth grade’s theme of economy and consumption.

“The idea of going to see a minor league team was to look at locations of minor league teams and how minor league teams support the local economy,” she said.

Owen Vietmeier ’21 is excited about his local summit experience. “I expect it to be fun,” he said. “I’m looking forward to ending the school year.”

Vietmeier says that he thinks the Summit experience will be a positive note to end the year on, but he doesn’t care about its progression into the Upper School. “It won’t affect [me],” he said.

Ninth grade history teacher Mr. Jeffery Carroll is not a part of the Eighth Grade Academy, but is still running the trip to Cazenovia. “I was going to be a part of the eighth grade team before some changes in the upper school had me move up,” he said.

“When we were talking the eighth grade trips, it came up that my friend runs a farm in Cazenovia, New York,” he said. “I was a natural fit to plan and help lead that trip. The farm seemed like a good fit since [the eighth grade] has a background in sustainability and technology.”

According to Carroll, students will be helping out on the farm in many ways.“We’ll be working in vegetable fields, doing some animal maintenance, [and] preparing for things to be sold to customers.” he said. “I think the students will get a first hand experience of the things that [they’ve] seen through books and videos and discussions so far.”

Carroll said that he’s already gotten that experience. “I lived there for a year, so I worked with my friend there, and I go back as much as I can.”

Quinn Hall ’21 is going on the Cazenovia trip, and he too is excited. “Since I’m going with my friends I think it’ll be fun. It [will] be a good time to connect with my Malvern brothers,” he said.

Carroll said that if summit trips happen next year, he hopes Cazenovia will return to the list.

“We’re going to see how this goes, get your feedback on it, and see what we need to improve,” he said.