Seniors London-Bound for the Bard’s Birthday

In order to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday (April 23) in grand style, eight English 12 students and English teachers Diane Carel and Leah Mandel traveled to London for a whirlwind weekend.

The group adopted the slogan, “Keep Calm and Carry On” (borrowed from a 1939 British poster), which proved appropriate as they endured pre-travel uncertainty due to a flight ban caused by Iceland’s erupting volcano. The trekkers welcomed the airline’s “OK” and took off Thursday evening, relieved that their tight itinerary would still be intact.

Friday’s schedule included a visit to the British Museum and a walk along the Thames, followed by the highlight of the trip: attendance at the opening night performance of Macbeth at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. The play was staged innovatively with a nod to Doré’s wood engravings based on Dante’s Inferno.

Students enjoyed a bus tour of the key sites of central London the next day, hopping off at St. Paul’s Cathedral and Buckingham Palace for photo opportunities. In the afternoon, part of the group admired works in the National Portrait Gallery while the rest explored chic London shops. That evening the whole party had a pleasurable dinner at the OXO Tower Brasserie, which offered breathtaking views of the city.

After excursions to the Tower of London and The London Eye Ferris wheel located on the banks of the River Thames on Sunday, the travelers were ready (or maybe not) to “jump across the pond” again on Monday morning.

Joannlee LeBron, part of Mrs. Carel’s Shakespeare elective class and a former student in Mrs. Carel’s 10th grade Literature course, encouraged her teacher over the years to bring literature to life by connecting it with the world. Inspired, Mrs. Carel planned the trip to commemorate the Bard’s 446th birthday and was very happy with the results. “The nicest thing was that these students signed up for a rigorous class, never expecting that they would be going to London,” she said.