Washington, D.C. 2024

Join the Class of 2028 on the annual Eighth Grade trip to the nation’s capitol!

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Our annual Washington, DC trip began dark and early on Saturday morning, March 23, 2024. The 8th graders and their chaperones pulled away from Clarksville Academy at 5:30 AM and began the first leg of the trip to Charlottesville, Va. 

Upon arrival, the group stopped at The University of Virginia to learn all about the history of the campus and its founder, Thomas Jefferson and what student life and admissions is like today. Students visited The Whispering Wall, the famous Rotunda on the lawn, the college dorm room of Edgar Allan Poe, and paid their respects at the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers wall. 

After the hour-long campus walking tour, the group walked to dinner at a popular college hangout, Boylan Heights. Then, before checking into the hotel for the night, grabbed ice cream at The Dairy Market.

March 24, 2024

After a good night’s rest, and breakfast in the hotel, and before heading to Washington, DC, the group headed to the home of Thomas Jefferson, Monticello. A guided tour of the grounds and house helped the history of Thomas Jefferson come to life. Students toured the reconstructed residence and work areas of the 600+ enslaved laborers of the plantation. Additionally, they learned about the story of Sally Hemings. Our visit closed with a near mile hike down the mountain to visit the gravesite of Thomas Jefferson and his family. 

March 25, 2024

Monday started with a rare trip to tour the inside of The Pentagon. Clarksville Academy is fortunate to have parent and CAPA member, Tee Fountain, for MANY reasons, to include her willingness to arrange a private tour of The Pentagon for our 8th graders. The Pentagon does not provide these private tours for school groups any longer, but through Tee as a former military employee of The Pentagon, we are able to visit. Students saw the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, the Navy Memorial to 9/11 (rare for the public), artwork and dedications to all branches of the military, and the interior courtyard. This was an amazing and once in a lifetime experience. We are so grateful to Tee for her arrangement of this educational experience for our students.

After leaving The Pentagon, students ate lunch at the Pentagon City Mall food court. From there, students learned about the history of African Americans through The Smithsonian’s African American Museum and The Smithsonian’s Museum of American History. 

Before dinner, the group stopped at the base of The Washington Monument and got some energy out by running around, playing volleyball, throwing a frisbee, and relaxing in the sunshine. After enjoying the lawn, students ate dinner at The Hard Rock Cafe.

To finish the day on Monday, students visited Lafayette Park and took a group picture at The White House. Interestingly, while there, the park closed as diplomatic visitors were visiting  The White House, and students watched as news cameras were set up. 
After the museums and The White House visit, and museum visits, students were able to stand outside of Ford’s Theater and The Peterson House. Students observed the original steps where Abraham Lincoln’s body was carried after being shot in Ford’s Theater. 

To end the night, the group took another nighttime walking tour of some of the many amazing monuments in the city. Students spent time at The Jefferson Memorial and The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. While viewing and learning about these monuments, the Cherry Blossom Festival around the tidal basin wowed everyone. 

Thank you to Victoria Dye for designing our wonderful shirts for the week!

March 26, 2027

Early morning on Tuesday, students drove to the home of George and Martha Washington, Mount Vernon. Students walked the grounds and had a guided tour of the house. Much of the home is original. Additionally, the group walked a trail to see the tombs of the Washingtons and also graves of the enslaved laborers that worked at Mount Vernon.

From Mount Vernon, students visited The United States Capitol. The tour of The Capitol was guided and students were able to stand in the Rotunda and National Statuary Hall to see where dignitaries and presidents lie in state. 

An exciting development on this trip was learning there is now permission to take photographs at The National Archives. Students viewed the founding and original documents for our nation.

The group capped off the night with some relaxation and fun at Pinstripes Bowling Alley and a short walk around Georgetown University. 

March 27, 2024

The day started cold and rainy- the appropriate and somber backdrop for a trip to Arlington National Cemetery. While at the cemetery, the group took the long walk to the top of the hill to witness the changing of the guard ceremony located at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. From there, students walked to the prominent grave location of John F. Kennedy (eternal flame) and also the memorial to The Challenger space mission crew.

Wet and cold, students went to dry off and recharge at L’Enfant Plaza for lunch. From there, the group experienced another somber and sobering stop at The Holocaust Museum learning about the horrible events in our history.

The museum stops ended with The Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History. Students enjoyed seeing the huge exhibits that focus on all aspects of nature in our history. They also enjoyed buying hats! 

With a few extra minutes before students needed to board a dinner cruise, we took a bus tour of Washington, DC locations. Locations viewed included the original American Red Cross building, another view of The White House, The Daughters of the American Revolution building, and the World War II Memorial.

The night and trip capped off with a traditional student favorite- The Spirit Dinner Cruise. Students boarded the ship and coasted down The Potomac River viewing the DC skyline and dancing the night away. Amauri Bussey won the dance contest on the ship and even a few chaperones were seen joining the fun. It was a great way to enjoy one another’s company and bond as a class.

After the cruise, a tired group headed back to the hotel to pack up for the ride home. On Thursday, we will be Clarksville bound with a stop at the Natural Bridge Park and rest stops. 

March 28, 2024

Thursday, all got up early to head home! After a few hours on the bus, everyone got to enjoy the crisp air and sunshine on a short hike (with 137 stairs!) to the naturally formed bridge at The Natural Bridge State Park in Virginia. This area was owned by Thomas Jefferson from the 1770s-1830s. 

This stop was also where the group said goodbye to John Ivory, our amazing tour guide for the week. 

Students loaded the bus then for the final trek to Clarksville Academy. An amazing time was had by everyone and another tradition has been fulfilled. The 8th graders are absolutely fantastic and received compliments from COUNTLESS guides, drivers, and workers throughout the week. They even had a bus driver, Lawrence, and John Ivory request to serve our group again next year. Lifelong memories and friendships were made. 

Now, it’s time to enjoy Spring Break and get some rest!

Winterim 2024

Winterim 2024 actually kicked off in 2023 for one group! This year we have groups traveling to South Africa, Greece, California, the Everglades, Boston, Hawaii, Disney, Tennessee, and a few groups are staying local to promote fitness, service in the community, studying art at APSU or taking in the history of our local area. Each Winterim is specially designed to offer the student the most experiential learning throughout the week. Check back daily for updates!

**Groups traveling out of the country are hours ahead or behind local time and their updates may arrive late. Please be patient with us on posting.

The adventure begins January 2024!

December 31-January 1

January 2, 2024

South Africa

A group of twenty-four students and three adults left for an amazing adventure on Sunday, December 31. They traveled over 30 hours to reach their destination. The group had a long two days, but are ready to prepare for the adventure of a lifetime beginning Tuesday, January 2.

The day dawned early for this group of travelers with many stops before many of you had even risen. The group visited Angel’s Cove/ Camp’s Bay overlooking the 12 Apostles. They then went to Haute Bay boarded a boat to Duiker Island to visit the seal colony and even got to see baby seal pups. They then boarded the bus and traveled to Chapman’s Peak. The next stop was the Cape of Good Hope and The Cape Point Nature Reserve. Lunch was had in Simons Town where many tried ostrich and other wild game. They traveled to Boulders Beach to view the penguin colonies where again they were able to see baby penguins! The day ended with a trip to the V&A Waterfront where the group enjoyed wandering shops and a more traditional American dinner. Each moment was filled with majestic views and new opportunities for these students to enjoy. There are even some budding photographers on the trip!

**Last photo of baby seal was taken by Zach Greer, Senior.

January 3, 2024


The day began at 3 AM as eighteen seniors, Mrs. Denise Walker, and Mr. Austin Wells departed for Hawaii. After catching a connecting flight through Las Vegas, we finally reached Honolulu after a 15-hour journey. Once we checked into our hotel, we enjoyed an evening at the beach, culminating in a serene sunset. Despite the demanding travel, the presence of our special guest Ms. Piper Bell made our arrival in Hawaii truly delightful.


Our day kicked off with a meeting in the classroom where we reviewed our itinerary for Winterim over some delicious breakfast. Afterwards we went to Trifecta Fitness to participate in either a cycling or strength training class. Students will alternate classes when we return to Trifecta Fitness on January 8th. Both classes did a great job and put forth good effort in both workouts! Afterwards, we took our lunch break and met back on campus before going to walk the trails at Dunbar Cave Park. Although it was a bit chilly outside, our time at Dunbar Cave Park allowed us to relax and enjoy nature. This wrapped our day before dismissal back on campus. 

History & Local Government

The History and Local Government group began the day with CA Alum, William Parker, the Historical Interpreter for Fort Defiance. Mr. Parker presented “The Soldier’s Burden, A Day in the Life of a Civil War Soldier.” Students learned about many of the daily trials that Civil War soldiers faced.

In the afternoon, students continued to learn more about the Civil War from Susan Hawkins of Fort Donelson National Battlefield, who prepared us for Thursday’s visit to the Fort. Students were able to try on and model actual Civil War attire and hear about the importance of Fort Donelson during the Union’s march on the South.

South Africa

Wednesday dawned another early day for our South Africa group. Leaving the hotel at 7:30 AM, the group traveled a short distance to Table Mountain, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. There they took a cable car to the top and spent time wandering the top of the mountain, taking in wildlife, scenic views, and of course getting those post worth instagram photos! Leaving the mountain, the group headed back to the V&A Waterfront for a quick lunch and then took a 30 minute boat ferry ride to Robben Island. This abandoned prison is where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for many years. An ex-political prisoner gave the groups two hour tour and told many stories of the men who were kept there. It was a fascinating day! The night was capped off with a leisure night of swimming and playing Code Names back at the hotel! Next up….water adventures!

**The top photo was taken by Senior, Rebekah Hass


Twelve Clarksville Academy students began working with artist Sarah Spillers at Austin Peay State University on Wednesday, January 3rd.  Students learned about fundamentals of art and applied what they learned to create five tone monochromatic color palettes.  Our CA artists created cityscapes using the palettes, and they had a free art creation period to practice with paint pens and tools. Famous faces and family members were selected as the subjects for the monochromatic acrylic portraits that will be created this week.  

Greece (Days 1 & 2)

After two arduous flights and a layover (beginning Monday and continuing through Tuesday), we finally started our adventure in Athens, Greece at 7:15 PM (11:15 AM in CST). Though we had time to sleep on the flights, jetlag was prevalent; so much so that I was told by the husband of one of the chaperones to smile as a lighthearted jab to my expression in the photo we took post-landing (he’s also one of my coaches- living vicariously through our photos). Despite this, our tour guide, Dimitra, brightened our spirits with her commentary and explanations of where we were and the history surrounding Greece as we were driven to our hotel.  

Our group checked into the hotel, and after a Greek dinner on the rooftop of our hotel with an amazing first view of the Acropolis (where the Parthenon is located) and a shower with intensely strong water pressure, most of us retired to our rooms to sleep. A few from the group were awake enough to take an evening stroll through part of the city at the base of the Acropolis.

Wednesday began our first official day. After we ate breakfast, we departed on a driving tour around Athens stopping at the stadium of the first modern Olympics, built completely from marble. Then the group headed to the Acropolis to embark on a hike up to the real Parthenon! We learned of the myths and motivations behind the temples, architecture, and structures. Our guide shared with us the reason why the temple of Athena Nike (dedicated to the patron goddess of Athens, Athena, and the goddess of victory, Nike) featured Nike without wings, despite her typically being depicted with wings. The reason being that the ancient Greeks feared that with flight given to the goddess via wings, she would abandon their city. Thus, they were removed.

After we thoroughly explored the Acropolis, and participated in a photographic challenge introduced by our guide, we made our way to the Acropolis Museum, where we saw many artifacts recovered from the immediate area. Notable to me was what had to be a couple dozen maiden statues that were left at the parthenon as offerings to Athena. Then, we ventured underneath the museum, where ruins of a Roman neighborhood and bathhouses were right under our feet. The rest seemingly spanning across the entire city, some unseen but in few places glass floors allowed pedestrians to view the ruins all over the city. Athens is like a giant, free museum of history!

We continued learning a little more about the history and culture surrounding Athens (both ancient and modern) as we walked after lunch. While we soaked up the opportunity to learn we also took enjoyment in indulging in food and shopping. In the evening, and what we thought was the final activity to end the night, we walked to the old town to sample traditional Greek dishes at Acropol. We were entertained by traditional Greek dancers and by the end of the night we were dancing to Greek music and got to break a few dishes to signify our happiness- Opa! Finally, we hiked to Mars Hill, or Areopagus in Greek, which was the seat of Ancient Athens’ Supreme Court. There’s not a structure there now, but the views were breathtaking! While we were exhausted, it was well worth the effort.



Greetings, CA family! Today kicked off with an Oahu cruise and snorkel tour, immersing us in the magical history of the islands and the captivating tales of the Waianae coastline graciously shared by our crew. As we sailed along the coast, relishing the island’s scenic beauty and keeping a keen eye on the water for marine life, the constant ocean breeze and the warm embrace of the sun created an idyllic and relaxing atmosphere.

We encountered multiple pods of dolphins and two large turtles during our cruise, heightening the excitement. Upon reaching our snorkeling haven along Oahu’s western coastline, we geared up and eagerly plunged into the pristine waters. Given that most of our group were first-time snorkelers, there was a slight learning curve; stories of “slurping up” saltwater became a fond part of our shared experience. The underwater world revealed an array of fish reminiscent of those in Finding Nemo—an adorable starfish even added to the enchantment post-snorkeling, we savored a delectable Hawaiian meal, where some students discovered the challenges of managing lettuce in the ocean breeze. A few of us are still trying to find our sea legs! 

The day continued with hiking Diamond Head at Diamond Head National Park. The unique profile of Diamond Head sits prominently near the eastern edge of Waikiki’s coastline.  This is Hawaii’s most recognized landmark and is known for its historic hiking trail, stunning coastal views, and military history. The broad, saucer-shaped crater was formed about 300,000 years ago during a single volcano eruption.  The trek from trailhead to summit is steep and strenuous, including a 225-foot tunnel. The panoramic view from the mountaintop was awe-inspiring, encompassing the entire crater, surrounding mountains, and the vast Oahu seascape. Estimated to be 300,000 years old, Diamond Head’s geological wonders provided a fitting conclusion to a day filled with adventure and exploration. After the hike, we indulged in some delicious food, capping off a day filled with unforgettable experiences.

January 4, 2024


Our day started off with breakfast and relaxation here on campus before heading to Rotary Park. Once we arrived at Rotary, we went for a nature walk that lasted a couple of miles. Some of the students checked out the nature center while others began outdoor activities. After we finished exploring Rotary Park, we made our way to NBalance Yoga. We had an amazing time of breathing, stretching, mindfulness, and relaxation. We wrapped our day up with lunch and a meeting back in the classroom before dismissal.

History & Local Government

Today’s dose of local history took our group to the Fort Donelson National Battlefield.

Students had the opportunity to see The Upper and Lower Battery, which is where the Confederate cannons were located along the banks of the Cumberland River. Also, we enjoyed the breathtaking views throughout the visit. Students also had the opportunity to tour the National Cemetery and the Dover or “Surrender” House, which is where the Confederacy surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant. Special Thanks to Park Ranger Susan Hawkins, who has guided many of these trips for CA students over the years!


Students are progressing on their monochromatic acrylic portraits. Each color in their palette requires 4-6 coats for every section on the portrait.  We will finalize the portraits and customize backgrounds tomorrow. I’m looking forward to sharing the final products! 

On Monday, Sarah Spillers will start the second of three projects for students during this CSA program. One will be a unique portrait in the style of artist Chuck Close, who had prosopagnosia, or face blindness. Our third project will be creation of a realistic chip bag. Stay tuned for more!

Job Shadowing & Community Service (Days 1 & 2)

Students have been hard at work on campus over the last two days learning about the do’s and don’ts of the job interviewing process. We’ve worked on handshakes, introductions, and answers to frequently asked interview questions to prepare students for their futures as young professionals. Students teleconferenced on Wednesday with a hiring manager at a local staffing agency to learn how to create and strengthen resumes. Today, students underwent mock interviews with Laura Hoppe, Stan Rozar, and Hunter Galbraith to practice and hone their interviewing skills.

Tomorow, students will assist at the Manna Cafe warehouse. More to come!

Boston (Days 1 & 2)

On the first day of our trip to Boston, we got to the airport bright and early. We got to Boston in time to see some of the wonders of the city on our first day here. We took a Freedom Trail Walk to explore a small slice of this historic city. There are many monumental places in Boston and on our first day we have already seen so many!

The first place we went was the Copps Burial Ground where many notable people are buried. While there we could see a beautiful view of the Boston Harbor. We also saw where Paul Revere once stood in Old North Church before his midnight ride from the burial ground. Revere hung two lanterns in the windows of Old North Church as a warning to the colonists that the British were coming by sea. During our walk we also saw the burial ground of Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Benjamin Franklin’s family.

After visiting the monuments, we went to dinner at Quincy Market. Quincy Market had a wide selection of restaurants for us to choose from to buy authentic food for our delicious dinner. After we all got finished eating and looking at the shops, we hopped on our bus to go to our hotel for the night and rest for the more fun to come.

South Africa

Some days in South Africa are just more beautiful than others…this was one of those days. We started the day with a leisurely drive around False Bay to Hermanus, where we had a nature walk along the cliffs and did a little shopping before lunch at the spectacular restaurant Bientang’s Cave.

This award-winning restaurant is situated on the shores of Walker Bay and is carved into the depths of a century old cave. This cave was named after Bientang, the last known indigenous Khoi Strandloper known to have lived in the cave around the turn of the 19th century.

After lunch we headed to nearby Voelklip Beach where the kids spent and afternoon swimming, sunbathing and exploring. 

Everglades and Keys

The Everglades and Keys group headed south early Thursday morning! We made it to our hotel and then went on an adventure to check out the local culture of South Beach. Students walked (perhaps the better term is hiked) nearly 2 miles to one of Miami’s legendary pizza places, Pizza Rustico! Students enjoyed their favorites with local south Miami flare. The were also very surprised at how large the pizzas were!

San Diego

Our west coast adventure started off smooth, albeit early, this morning with a 4 ½ hour flight. We landed in San Diego where it was a beautiful sunny day. We met up with our tour guide Kevin and hit the road on our way to our first destination, Birch Aquarium. Run by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the aquarium features several different species of fish, penguins, sea turtles, leopard sharks and sea dragons!

After some beautiful views, watching the sharks being fed, and petting a few sea stars, the group headed to La Jolla to admire even more stunning views and some wildlife in their natural habitat. We encountered a cliff full of pelicans, gulls, and cormorants! Then as we walked further down the coast, there were SO MANY seals and sea lions! A few of the students braved the chilly water and got a close up look at one of the sea lions. Next, we enjoyed a great meal at Joe’s Crab Shack and then headed to the hotel. The two-hour time difference and the early start has everyone ready to rest and get ready for tomorrow’s adventures.

Tennessee Natural Wonders (Days 1 & 2)

The Tennessee Natural Wonders group spent the first day of Winterim exploring the urban forest environment that surrounds CA and Downtown Clarksville. After practicing compass skills, we began our 16,000-step trek along the historic Cumberland River, through the Downtown Commons, and around the arboretum at APSU. We started Day 2 with Penny the turtle at the Wade Bourne Nature Center. After our turtle time, we learned how to do scientific drawings before setting out to explore the trails. We continued our hiking adventures at a local natural wonder – Dunbar Cave. We could not go into the cave (the bats are in hibernation) but were able to explore the mouth of the cave, a historical attraction, and to walk around the trails.


On Thursday, we traveled to Hollywood Studios where we got to experience behind-the-scenes attractions and first-in-line seats to The Tower of Terror and Rockin’ Rollercoaster. Also, through Imagination Campus, we took a physics class where we learned the science behind the launch and stop mechanics of the speed thrill Rockin’ Rollercoaster while also learning how the Tower of Terror elevators rose and fell. Throughout the day, some groups even spotted physics in many of the roller coasters, such as Slinky Dog Dash. Ending the night with fireworks and a show made Hollywood Studios a magical first day experience!


We started the day with an amazing Hawaiian breakfast. Our waitress was a local and shared lots of history about the island. After breakfast, we prepared to travel to the Polynesian Cultural Center. Upon arrival, they let us know we were their VIPs for the day. As VIPs, the students received a private guided tour through six island villages, were invited to attend the Luau, and had platinum seating for all events and shows.  

The students traveled through time and space at the Polynesian Cultural Center as we experienced thousands of years-worth of culture from six different island nations, each with its own flavor and appeal. After going through each island and learning about their cultures, we were told that we had earned our stripes and were tattooed! Don’t worry, they’ll wash off. Definitely ask to see their hula dancing, spear throwing, and fire making skills once we’ve returned to home! 

Oh, the Luau! How to describe it! Taste, sight, and sound united to bring the students the ultimate Luau experience.  We experienced authentic Polynesian food while enjoying an island extravaganza of song, dance, and celebration from across the Pacific.  Don’t worry, the night did not end there. 

After the Luau, we moved onto the IMAX theater to learn more about the culture passed down from Hawaiian generations and their connection with nature and their ancestors. We ended the night with the HA: Breath of Life Show and a quiet bus ride home. 

January 5, 2024


Our day once again began with some scrumptious breakfast and relaxation here on campus before heading over to Liberty Park. While at Liberty Park, we walked and did outdoor activities during our time there. Afterwards, we went over to American Pride Boxing for our class. The class was a great mix of cardio, strength, and mental training. It was a great workout as always. Once we got done there, we ate lunch and came back to campus for dismissal.


Γειά σου! We began today by boarding a bus to venture to Delphi, where the Temple of Apollo is located. Of course, on the way we had to stop by a quaint cafe in the mountains for some coffee and baklava. We all quickly fell in love with the local cats as we boarded the bus and set off to complete our journey. On the way, we passed through a village with very narrow streets. This particular village is popular with Greeks who travel to the mountains to ski. As we ventured through the labyrinth of streets, we learned that Spain and Greece are the two largest cotton producers in Europe. 

When we arrived at Delphi we were instantly in awe of the valley where the archeological sites are located, lined with olive trees and mountains towering above. We learned the story of how Zeus guided Apollo to Delphi by throwing the naval stone, and how he sent a dolphin to guide Apollo across the sea (this is one explanation for how Delphi got its name). Fun fact: the largest olive tree in Greece is located at Delphi, and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site! After spending some time exploring the old temple, walking through the old amphitheater located above, and hearing the stories of the Oracle, we headed to the site’s museum to see the artifacts found at the site, including one of the best-preserved bronze sculptures from the era.

On the way to the Port of Piraeus, we stopped for lunch and to do a bit of shopping. At one shop in particular, we learned about the various types of rugs that are made by hand in the village. 

We ended our day at the Port of Piraeus and boarded our overnight ferry to venture to Crete. Of course, there was so much more packed into the day, but it would take far more time to share the unforgettable moments we have experienced.


The APSU Winterim group completed their portraits today. Students are selecting backgrounds and framing their pieces. Johnny Cash, Bob Ross, Paris Hilton and more are featured in the completed artwork.  Our next project is a snack still life. We will take a snack and use a grid pattern to make a life like painting!

Job Shadowing and Community Service

Today, we helped organize and distribute food at Manna Cafe’s warehouse. Manna Cafe is a local non-profit organization that assists anyone experiencing food insecurity in Clarksville and many of its surrounding counties. Despite the somewhat chilly conditions this morning, the students were eager to roll their sleeves up and get to work! Students packed bread and sweet boxes, loaded other essential grocery items into carts, and distributed the prepared goods to those there for assistance. After returning to campus, students reconvened about their experiences before dismissal.

Tennessee Natural Wonders / History & Local Govt.

On Day 3, the TN Natural Wonders and the History & Local Govt. groups traveled together to Sweetwater, Tennessee, to visit The Lost Sea, America’s largest underground lake and Registered National Natural Landmark.  

We hiked 140 feet below ground level to the lake, which is located within the historic cave systems of the area.  Along the way we experienced “total darkness” and learned about the history of the cave.  At the bottom of the cave, we took a boat ride on a four-acre lake, and we had the opportunity to feed the rainbow trout, which swam near the surface.  



Students started the day by searching for the Liberty Tree. Once at the Liberty Tree, we discussed the significance of the tree and the meaning behind the lanterns which hang there.  Students learned about the Liberty Bell and the meaning of the words imprinted on it.  Students were divided into groups to explore Liberty Square and identify cultural differences in the area. They observed Paul Revere’s lanterns, people in colonial dress, stockades, and more. Students spent the rest of the day exploring Magic Kingdom, experiencing the different areas of the park. 


Our adventure took us to Pearl Harbor today, the final resting place for the 1,177 lives lost during the sudden attack on the harbor. We took a deep dive into what happened on the tragic Sunday morning of December 7, 1941. A ferry brought us to the remains of some ships that were attacked and had been repurposed into a memorial, such as the USS Arizona which had only the gun turrets and parts of the hull visible above the surface with the rest sunken into the murky waters of the Pacific. 

The Battleship Missouri allowed a glimpse into the living conditions of the sailors. Students were able to guide themselves through the ship and explore various nooks and crannies where the sailors worked and lived. As the noon Hawaii sun beat down upon the battleship, the students were reminded how things can change in an instant and the strength and resolve of our armed forces. 

The night ended on an especially relaxing, jazzy note as the students boarded the stunning Star of Honolulu cruise ship and were greeted with tasty Hawaiian drinks and charcuterie. The 5-star meal was accompanied by a jazz trio consisting of Oahu’s finest musicians, punctuated with views of the sunset and concluding with fireworks from the shore. It was a magical evening on the waves that would lull the students (and Mr. Wells!) into a deep slumber upon returning to the hotel!

South Africa

Friday the group traveled about 1.5 hours to Muizenberg Beach to learn to surf! Most of the kids (and adults) had never experienced this before and certainly never in this setting. After a short tutorial on the beach, we hit the waves for yet another adventure. At the end of the three hour experience, all the students and Ms. Kaleigh Goostree claim to have ridden the waves while standing! (Mrs. Allen only got to her knees, but had fun just the same.) The group then enjoyed lunch in the coastal town and headed back to the hotel for some much needed R&R. We then boarded the bus again for an epic adventure—-Mountain Climbing! This group of 28 people hiked up steep inclines, climbed over rocks, scaled mountain ladders to reach the summit of 2195 feet of Loin’s Head Mountain. This group showed their true grit and determination to accomplish this goal.

San Diego

January 6, 2024

South Africa

The day dawned early for this group’s first adventure. We traveled to Constanta, Western Cape, in wine country to zip line at 550 feet across 1680 feet of lines. The course was seven lines and an experience of a lifetime. Each child came and conquered. After leaving there we headed to downtown Cape Town and Greenstreet Market for lunch and shopping at huge street market. The kids all found the perfect African souvenirs to take home. Then back to the water front for a stroll and dinner before packing up to head off on Safari!


We disembarked for the Dole Plantation shortly after sunrise, ready to bask in the bucolic setting and savor the freshly picked fruits grown on the many acres of farmland. The Pineapple Express took us through each section of the farm, where the red soil, enriched with iron from centuries of volcanic pyroclasts, nourished the many decadent fruits, namely the signature pineapple. And of course, the iconic Dole Whip was a sweet way to conclude time on the plantation! 

We headed north to Hale’iwa, the historic surf town that is the cultural hub of the North Shore. Here students browsed the numerous surf shops, stocking items ranging from boogie boards and hula figurines to mother-of-pearl necklaces and hibiscus cologne. We punctuated our visit with some amazing local cuisine!

The day continued with a hike at Waimea Falls, which made you feel like you were in the actual rainforest. The hike ended at a beautiful waterfall!  We had so much fun swimming under the waterfall. The water was frigid, but the experience was worth it.  

We ended the night with time at the beach, where there was boogie boarding, pier jumping, sunning, and swimming! 


After our overnight ferry across the Aegean Sea, we departed onto the port of the city of Χανιά (Chania) on the island of Crete. Crete is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean and the southernmost isle of the Greek islands. When leaving the port, we quickly noticed the mountainous landscape of the island with large hills and mountains stretching right to the sea. 

After settling into our hotel, we began a guided tour of the city of Chania, which we quickly learned has a very layered history. On our walking tour we passed by ruins of Minoan houses which were thousands of years old alongside Venetian Roman Catholic Churches and ottoman minarets. We learned that the city of Chania was a port city under the control of Venice for hundreds of years before being conquered by the Ottoman Empire. The Cretan people would eventually gain independence until uniting with Greece. This deep history of conquest is evident in the architecture of the city, which has a mix of Greek, Italian, and Turkish buildings. 

After some walking we found ourselves in the center of the city, which surrounded a beautiful medieval Venetian port. Shops, restaurants, and historic buildings line the port; a large Venetian wall and an Egyptian lighthouse encloses the water from the Aegean Sea. We walked away from the port and toward a small section of beach to dip our toes in the Aegean. After the beach, we stopped by a cafe for a quick treat and a nice vista of the city and sea before heading back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. At dinner we tried a variety of traditional Greek dishes and ended off a spectacular day with an evening walk through the center of town to the hotel.

San Diego

We had a wonderful morning and some amazing guides at Torrey Pines Natural Reserve. The park is located within city limits and includes stunning views of the California coastline. This 2,000-acre park is home to magnificent the Torrey pine trees; the reserve is one of only two places in the world where these trees grow, making them one of the rarest pine trees! Our group hiked about a mile through the park, down to the stone beach and back.

Afterward, we headed to La Jolla beach for sea kayaking. The surf and waves were too strong close to the sea caves that we were going to explore, so our group paddled for about 2 miles just off the shoreline. Our students are now expert kayakers!

From there, we grabbed lunch on the way and went to the San Diego Zoo, which is one of the most famous zoos in the world. The zoo is 100 acres and is home to over 4,000 animals! We went with a “divide and conquer” plan so that everyone could see the animals and exhibits that they were most interested in. Finally, we went to Phil’s BBQ for dinner, just to see if it’s any good compared to Tennessee barbecue (spoiler, it’s not), but the food was very tasty, and we were quite hungry after our long busy day. We headed back to the hotel and are resting up for tomorrow’s adventures!


We left the hotel at around 8:45 in the morning to begin our day at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. There were seemingly countless exhibits displaying glass flowers, crystals, history, and different kinds of animals around the world. After this we walked to Harvard University and walked around the Harvard Yard for a little while. Soon after, we headed to a shopping district near the area for lunch. One of the main attractions found was The COOP which is Harvard’s official store.

At around 2:30 P.M. we arrived at Fenway Park and met our tour guide. The tour guide would go on and explain the history and significance of the park and how it’s the oldest field still played at. After the tour, we walked from the bus to the Fairmount Copley, a luxurious hotel found in the area. Across the street, we saw the Trinity Church, a significant landmark in post-Civil War Boston. Just down the street, we headed to the Boston Public Library which is the biggest library in the nation – it is filled with beautiful Renaissance art as well! Around the corner from the library was the Boston Marathon Memorial, a tribute that honors the victims of the domestic terror attack during the race in 2013. After paying our respects at the memorial, we headed to a local Mexican restaurant for dinner and called it a night as snow started to fall.


Our visit to Animal Kingdom was one of the best experiences we’ve had together! It was raining when we arrived at the park, which meant there were less people in lines. We were able to ride Kilimanjaro’s Safari twice! We got to see many species of animals from the African continent. There were loads of facts about the animals. While on the first safari ride, there were two rhinos that ran by our vehicle, and we observed a nearby lioness tracking the rhinos’ movements. 

On the second ride, we got a close-up look of the giraffes! It was awesome to see the giraffes walking around and grazing from nearby trees! We took notes about the animals and reptiles as the ride continued! For example, a herd of zebras is called a dazzle. Also, lions can see 6 times better at night! We took a break from learning to grab lunch and explore Animal Kingdom in small groups before meeting back up to visit Disney’s Conservation Station. We went to a petting zoo and looked at all kinds of domesticated animals there! The petting zoo also had other animals like frogs and lizards! There was also an animal hospital where they helped sharks recover. After visiting the hospital, we enjoyed the remainder of the evening exploring the park!


Today we got up bright and early to go out to sea to snorkel however the ocean had other plans for us. While on our way to the snorkeling charter we received a phone call from the company informing us that the snorkeling trip had been canceled due to water conditions. We had winds blowing from the south at 14 knots which made it impossible to physically be in the water for snorkeling. They offered us a trip deep sea and coral reef fishing with their neighboring fishing charter boat the Marathon Queen. While it was bumpy and rough heading out, students had a blast catching all types of reef fish, one even caught an eel! The weather turned out to be beautiful on our 5-hour fishing trip–we caught well over 60 fish! The deck mates taught us about the different types of fish found on the reefs in the Keys. The also explained to us why the coral reefs were so important to maintain not from just an ecological standpoint but also an economic one. 

After leaving the fishing trip we headed to eat lunch and get ready for the tour of the Turtle Hospital. The Turtle Hospital is a 24/7 fully staffed veterinary hospital that specializes in turtles. They operate 365 days a year. Our tour guide was amazing! She taught us all about the different types of diseases turtles usually come in for, with the majority of them being boat strikes, and plastic injuries. They have a 75% survival success rate with their veterinary medicine and rehabilitation program. The other 25% either become unreleasable(meaning they live out their life there or at another facility) or they succumb to their injury/sickness. She taught us that if the sea turtles come in and they have 80% or less of their vision left they will also deem them unreleasable because the importance of the turtles needing to see. We learned that 5 of the 7 sea turtle species are found within the Florida Keys, with the other 2 being in either India or Australia. During our visit, students got to interact with the turtles and feed them. We also go to see the turtles that are currently hospitalized and being treated for injuries. They even had 2 hatchlings there that are around 7 weeks old that someone discovered and brought to them. 

After the Turtle Hospital we went to Burdines Waterfront Grills where we had a great dinner, along with Key Lime Pie, because a trip to the Keys would not be complete without Key Lime Pie. 

January 7, 2024


Our final day on Oahu began by departing for Kualoa Ranch, where over 200 movies and TV shows, such 50 First Dates, Jurassic World, and Jumanji, were filmed. We channeled our inner paniolo–the Hawaiian cowboy–on a horseback tour that took us across the Ka’a’awa Valley to see segments of the 4,000-acre nature reserve and the numerous settings where these movies were brought to life. The view at the summit spanned miles, allowing us to see distant islands and the crystal clear, waist-deep water stretching across all of the East Shore. 

A jungle tour was also taken by our group, where various points on the reserve offered a vignette into ancient Hawaiian life, complete with grass huts and wooden depictions of the Hawaiian gods. Multiple stops also took us to replicas of scenes from movies, such as a crashed (styrofoam) helicopter from the movie Kong! Wild boars and mongooses were seen skittering through the brush, and wild chickens perched in the many trees extending into the sky. A moment of respite was taken by a nearby creek to soak in the sounds, aroma, and verdure of our surroundings.

No trip to Hawaii could be considered “perfect” without dinner by the beach! Duke’s Canoe Club was the final stop of our trip, and the perfect conclusion to our Winterim journey. The salty Hawaiian air, aroma of coconut shrimp, and live music by the beach at sunset culminated in a picturesque ending that appealed to all of the senses – what a perfect way to get into the true spirit of “Aloha!”


The morning began in Chania with a brisk swim in the Aegean Sea. The water was beyond cold, so we had to move a lot in the water to avoid hyperthermia. Now the group can officially say that we’ve swam in the Mediterranean! After our swim, we dried off and observed the Epiphany ceremony. This ceremony is in remembrance of John the Baptist by the Greek Orthodox Church. The tradition includes a procession, a blessing of the waters, and a cross being thrown into the water by the head priest of Chania. The cross is then dived after by local Cretan men, and the man who grabs the cross is considered blessed. Most of the group was sitting just above the water and had a perfect view of both the ceremony and the fish swimming beneath us. 

Afterwards, we boarded our bus and headed to Rethymno for a quick view of the Venetian shipyards. We had a brief lunch before boarding the bus again. Our final destination for the day was Heraklion. Before a walk on the streets of Heraklion, we ate at our hotel. The meal was buffet-style, and the cheese pies are a delicious staple at most restaurants in Greece. The pedestrian-friendly streets were full of shops that are usually open during the summer; many of us grabbed gelato at an Italian gelato stand while others tried Bougatsa, a sweet pastry dessert covered with sugar and cinnamon, that a couple of restaurants in Heraklion are world famous for. After a long day of traveling and seeing the sights, we slept like rocks at our hotel that night.



Today we got up and traveled to Big Pine Key and met with Captain Bill and Sean for our 4.5-hour ecological kayak tour. This was a first for many of the students, so Bill and Sean walked everyone through how to get into their kayak and paddle properly. After our quick lesson, students were fitted with life jackets and off we went across the channel. It started off beautiful outside, 80 degree and sunny, but the weather does often change on a dime in the Keys.

As we worked our way through the mangrove forest, Bill and Sean talked to the students about the importance of the mangrove forests. The mangrove forests are the nursery for pretty much all fish species in the Keys because they offer shelter from predators and are easy, reliable food sources. We also learned that there are 3 different species of mangroves in the keys: black, red, and white; each species has a different way of filtering the salt out of their system. Mangrove forests can also withstand wind speeds up to 250 mph which is the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane. They protect the shorelines from the destructive forces of the hurricanes as well such as storm surge, and act as a wind break. They are extremely important to the ecosystem for not only this, but mangrove forest also help filter the water from pollutants. Also, mangroves will not sprout unless 7 seedlings have joined together–they enjoy having strength in numbers! Students also saw crabs, hermit crabs, jellies, horseshoe crabs, and sea stars while we were on our trip. A baby lizard also hitched a ride on one of their boats as well. 

As mentioned before the weather turns on a dime in the Keys, and our beautiful day turned stormy very quickly! On our last stop, we noticed that the sky was turning really dark to the northwest of us, and we had hoped that it was going to skirt around the island. We were able to work our way back through the river channel VERY quickly, but as we neared the main ocean channel to cross the winds shifted and the surf began to pick up. We were able to cross the channel just in time. As soon as we got on the bus it began to pour rain!

January 8, 2024


Today we started our day off with breakfast and relaxation. We then went back to Trifecta and swapped from what we did last week. The spin group was very energetic today! The strength training group’s trainers paid the group some fantastic compliments following their workout as well! After we wrapped up at Trifecta, we grabbed lunch and came back to campus to eat. Once we were done with lunch we went back to Liberty Park where students did outdoor activities until it was time to head back to campus and dismiss.

Community Service

Today our group helped out at YAIPAK, a fantastic local nonprofit organization dedicated to many different avenues of community service. YAIPAK collects donations for the homeless, veterans, foster children/families, and victims of natural disasters. Students helped organize donated clothes, load a truck with items bound for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and offloaded pallets of various household donations across their warehouse’s six different bays. Although there was a lot of ground to cover, our students were energized and ready to work! Crystal Gonzalez, YAIPAK Veteran Manager, gave us a tour of the entire facility and explained the organization’s history and mission before we left for lunch. After a stop at Chick-fil-a, we returned to campus for dismissal.

History & Local Government

Today, our first stop was a presentation by Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts. Mayor Pitts discussed the history of Clarksville and the structure of city government. Also, Mayor Pitts fielded questions from group members dealing with local issues and concerns. Shout out to the Mayor and his staff for making our visit informative and educational!

Our second stop was the Montgomery County Election Commission, led by Elizabeth Black. Mrs. Black discussed the election process and showed students how to vote on the brand-new voting machines. Thanks to Mrs. Black for always participating in our Winterim program!

The final stop for the day was Fort Defiance. Mr. William Parker gave students a tour of the Fort and discussed the background and significance of Fort Defiance during the Civil War. We appreciate Mr. Parker’s participation in our program!

Tomorrow, students will travel to Nashville for a tour of the State Capitol and Tennessee State Museum.


Our penultimate day at APSU was filled with activity.  Students completed their acrylic portraits and realistic chip bags in the morning.  After lunch, which has been catered daily by APSU, we took a full tour of the campus.  Students had the opportunity to go in two different dorms and get a feel for the regular and apartment style living options on campus.  When we returned, we started working on disco balls in the style of artist Sari Shryak.  Our final task was selection of an image for tomorrow’s final project, a portrait in the style of Chuck Close.

South Africa January 7 & 8

The group traveled to Aquila Game Reserve for a real life safari. The resort was beautiful and the weather perfect, just a little chilly. On the 7th we went out on a late afternoon safari and saw so many wonderful animals, from lions to rhinos, from hippos to baboons, from ostrich to zebra, and so much more. It was an experience of a lifetime. We headed back to our resort for dinner and star gazing around a bonfire. The 7th dawned early with a 7:00 AM ride. During this the animals were really on the move! The elephants kept walking and crossing right next to us! Less than 20 feet! They even had a friendly tussle in front of our truck. When we entered the lion’s area they were also up and roaming and Simba—as we liked to call him, came within 10 feet of our truck. He looked many of us right in the eyes and I have to say, it was a little scary! Afterward, we returned to the resort to pack up and head back to Cape Town for our final night. We enjoyed sunset on the beach with a late dinner. We are all exhausted and ready to come home, but oh so grateful for this amazing once in a lifetime experience.

Washington D.C. 2023

Follow along as our eighth grade students continue the CA tradition of visiting Washington, D.C.! They are off on the adventure of a lifetime!

Sunday, March 12

First stop, University of Virginia! The students had a wonderful time exploring the University that Thomas Jefferson helped to create. It was a very cold and snowy tour, but well worth it!

Monday, March 13

After a night in Charlottesville, VA, the group set out to visit Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s beloved mountain top home.

Along with a docent-led tour of the house itself, our students were also able to visit Mulberry Row (enslaved people’s quarters), Jefferson’s garden, the north annex, and the Jefferson gravesite and family cemetery.

Following the tour of Monticello, the group boarded the charter bus to travel on to Chantilly, VA, and the Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Center. Students were able to see many different types of aircraft, including the Space Shuttle Discovery, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress “Enola Gay,” and a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.

After a delicious dinner at Chevy’s Fresh Mex, the group crossed the Potomac River to see the Lincoln Memorial. This awe-inspiring memorial made a fitting end to our first full day of touring and sightseeing.

Tuesday, March 14

Our second full-day dawned clear but cold, but our intrepid group was undaunted! Tuesday’s first stop was Arlington National Cemetery, where students were able to visit the Tomb of the Unknowns, the JFK gravesite, and the Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial.

In addition to the Changing of the Guard ceremony, we also had two students who were able to visit the graves of family members interred at Arlington.

From the ANC, our group moved on to a truly rare experience. Through the assistance and connections CA parent Tee Fountain, a retired US Army service member, our students were able to tour the Pentagon! In fact, the CA group was one of only two tour groups in the building on March 14th. Our Pentagon-sponsor, Mrs. Joycinda Hinton, met the group at the Visitor’s Center and introduced us to our tour guides, who were led by Sgt. Hawkins. The guides– members of the US Air Force, Army, and Navy– took students through several areas, including the Vietnam War exhibit, the Eisenhower exhibit, and the Women in the Military exhibit. Perhaps the most-moving portion of the tour was 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Chapel and the 9/11 Quilts display, which were quilt beautiful.

After the Pentagon tour, we moved across the street to the Pentagon City Mall, where students were allowed to pick from the varied options of the Food Court for today”s lunch. After this quick repast, we again boarded the charter bus to travel back into D.C. for our next stop– the United States Holocaust Museum.

This museum is an unique, interactive experience that documents the history and horrors of Nazi Germany’s “Final Solution.” Throughout the entire visit, the CA students were attentive and engaged, frequently asking excellent questions and making connections between the artifacts and their own life experiences.

During the visit, Mrs. McQueen ran into former CA student Kadence Winters, who was in Washington, D.C., with her parents!

After leaving the Holocaust Museum, we traveled to the National Mall and took a group photo with the Washington Monument.

Continuing on from the Mall, the group stopped at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

Although our stop was brief, the students had a terrific time in Natural History, exploring the many exhibits and the Museum Shop, which is the source of the “squid hats” seen in some of the forthcoming pictures.

Following Natural History, the group again boarded the charter bus to go to dinner at Good Stuff Eatery, where students enjoyed a dinner of hamburgers, pizza, or chicken sandwiches, along with some of the best french fries to be found. After dinner the group returned to the Tidal Basin area to visit the MLK, FDR, and Jefferson Memorials.

These last three visits of the day began at the MLK monument, which is one of the newest monuments in D.C. From there, the group walked around the Tidal Basin to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial.

Despite the setting sun and cold temperatures, the students were very attentive and asked good questions about FDR, his family, and his historic presidency. From the FDR monument, we made the short ride to the Jefferson Memorial, where students learned more about Jefferson and his monument.

While it was certainly a very full and somewhat long day, the students were absolute troopers and seemed to have a great time in the nation’s Capital. A short bus ride brought everyone back to the hotel to get some sleep before Wednesday morning’s visit to Mount Vernon!

To be continued ….

Wednesday, March 15

Wednesday’s adventure began with a bus ride to Fairfax County, VA, and the home of our nation’s first President, Mount Vernon. Shortly after arriving, the group viewed a short video about the site, its history, and the Mount Vernon’s Ladies Association, the civic group that owns and operates the facility. Since we had a bit of a wait until out tour started, the group moved to the Education Center to tour the Mount Vernon Museum.

Afterwards, we were able to a 4D film presentation about Washington’s role as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. The film highlighted the victories at Boston, Trenton, Princeton, and Yorktown. From the Education Center, the students walked up to the mansion to begin the tour. Highlights included the “New Room,” which is actually the last room added to the mansion. We also saw five bedrooms, including the room were George Washington died, and examples of authentic period furnishings.

After exiting the mansion, our group moved to the East lawn for a group photo featuring Washington’s view of the Potomac River.

From the East lawn, we headed down South Lane to visit the Washington mausoleum and the Slave Memorial, which we learned includes one of the earliest historical markers in the US to acknowledge the life and work of enslaved people from the Colonial Era.

After a box lunch while driving back to DC, the group visited the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, commonly known as “the Wall.” While at the monument, Cade Wallace had the opportunity to make a pencil rubbing of PFC Kenneth Lee Conner’s name; PFC Conner had served in Vietnam with Cade’s grandfather before being killed in a helicopter crash in 1969.

From the Wall, the group traveled along Constitution Ave NW to the National Archives Museum. Inside the Archives, we entered the Rotunda of the Charters of Freedom, where students were able to see original copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Additionally above these exhibits, visitors observe the Faulkner Mural, which were painted in 1935-1936 and depict an imagined version of Thomas Jefferson presenting the Declaration of Independence and of James Madison presenting the completed Constitution.

After leaving the National Archives, the group moved to the west side of the US Capitol for our official group portrait. Copies of this photo will be delivered in the next few weeks as a memento of the 2023 D.C. Trip.

After the photoshoot, the group walked to the Capitol Visitors’ Center to begin our tour. In the Capitol, students toured many areas of interest, including the Crypt, the Rotunda, and Statuary Hall. The Crypt is located on the lowest level of the Capitol, is the oldest part of the building, and at one time was intended to be the final resting place of President George Washington.

Wednesday’s activities concluded with a visit to Pinstripes (Georgetown) Bowling and Bocce. This unique establishment serves a delicious food and provides a full-service bowling alley and indoor bocce court! Students spent an honor on the bowling alleys before sitting down to a delectable Italian family-style dinner service. Before leaving for the hotel in Manassas, the students partook in several different games, including a “Telephone”-style storytelling game that was quite interesting.

All-in-all, Wednesday was another banner day for the Washington, D.C. 2023 Trip!

Thursday, March 16

What a way to bring things to an end …. Thursday was our last day touring in Washington, D.C., and if was a day jam-packed with activities. We began with the SPY Museum, where the group learned about basic spy-craft, ciphers, and disguises. We also participated in one of several simulated missions, which required students to make use of the skills they learned about in the museum.

From the SPY Museum, the group traveled back to the National Mall area in order to visit the Smithsonian Museum of American History. Before entering the museum, Mrs. McQueen issued the students a challenge: find at least one fact that was new information to you and that you think no one else on the trip would know. Our tour itself started with a viewing of “Old Glory,” the original flag that flew above Fort McHenry in 1812 and was the inspiration for Francis Scott Key’s poem that provides the lyrics for the National Anthem. Afterwards, the students were allowed to move freely through the museum to explore the many and varied exhibits. Several people mentioned be excited to see important objects of pop culture like Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz, Mister Roger’s sweater, and Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street.

Several of the boys also enjoyed seeing a bat used by St. Louis Cardinals’ great Stan Musial, Satchel Paige’s glove, and one of Babe Ruth’s bats. Some were also excited by an exhibit named “Dave’s Dream,” which was a customized Ford LTD lowrider.

After leaving American History, we traveled to L’Enfant Plaza, a unique underground shopping center with a large food court that game folks many options to choose for today’s lunch. After everyone ate, the group then walked about half a mile to return to the National Mall and the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). On the way, we stopped the English Garden, which lies behind the Smithsonian Castle. we enjoyed the warm sunshine as well as the many beautiful flowers and trees, and we paused for another group photo. Unfortunately, the Castle itself– the very first building of the Smithsonian Institution— was closed for renovations so we could not check out those exhibits.

At the NMAAHC, our group was subdivided into platoons of 10 students plus one chaperone. Each group was directed to a predetermined location to begin our self-guided tour of the museum. Two groups headed upstairs to begin in the “Culture” displays, while the other two groups went downstairs to go through the History of African Americans, Slavery, and Segregation from the 1500s to the 1960s.

In the lower History levels, students learned about the development of slavery throughout history, from the Ancient World all the way through to Europeans trading in slaves for their colonies. The next section addressed slavery in American how that practice related to the Charters of Freedom. The exhibit then took students along the historical trail of abolitionism, the Civil War, the Reconstruction and Jim Crow, early 20th-century African American culture, and the Civil Rights Movement.

On the upper Culture levels, students viewed modern works of art created by African American artists, and learned about the many ways that African Americans impacted America and American culture. We saw exhibits that discussed the contributions of African Americans to the US military, Sports, Music, and Film & Television. Although the students were not familiar with all of the artists, musicians, actors, and tv shows and movies, many of them found the artifacts quite interesting. Naturally, the chaperones were sure to point out Clarksville-native and Olympian Wilma Rudolph.

Once we left the NMAAHC, the beautiful weather beckoned us to spend some time outdoors, so students were allowed a “recess” at the base of the Washington Monument. Everyone, especially the chaperones, truly enjoyed this 45-minute rest period in warm, late afternoon sunshine.

After recess, the group trekked from the Washington Monument area up to Lafayette Park and the White House. Along the way, we passed the Treasury Department and the bronze statue of Alexander Hamilton. Upon reaching Lafayette Park and the White House, the group organized for a quick picture with the White House as a backdrop.

From the White House, we traveled to the Promenade to board the Odyssey for our nighttime dinner cruise on the Potomac River. The group enjoyed a tasty meal and more than an hour of dancing aboard ship.

For those not interested in the dance party, the decks offered lovely views of D.C. and its environs. We were also treated to great views of a couple of very important buildings, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Watergate Hotel and Office Building.

All told, we spent about 13 1/2 hours touring D.C. today. It was a full and exciting day, but it certainly took a toll on many of the kids, as one can see in today’s final photo. This photo shows Mrs. McQueen’s view of the bus on the drive back to our hotel.

Tomorrow is the final day, our return to Clarksville. While most of the day will be spent on the bus, we are planning one final tour at Virginia’s Natural Bridge State Park. It has been a wonderful week full of new experiences and great memories, but if we’re honest, most of the group is ready to get home, see family, and sleep in our own bed. With that said, we will see everyone in Clarksville Friday night.


Friday, April 8, three Clarksville Academy teachers and one Administrator embarked on a trip of the lifetime. They flew to Chicago and met up with a group of twenty more teachers and from there headed to Finland. They will spend the next week, immersing themselves in the culture, visiting area schools to experience new teaching techniques, and will even get to spend some time exploring. They are still adjusting to the eight hour time difference! Follow along as we experience their adventure with them! Sherry Cawood, Middle School, Gina Goostree, Head of Lower School, Shelley Holt, Lower School and Christine Lindsey, Upper School will fill us in on their daily adventures!

Friday, April 8-Saturday, April 9

CA faculty heading to Finland are full of anticipation for the trip. After many hours in O’Hare, we boarded for our 6.5 hour flight to Reykjavik, Iceland. We had a very brief layover.  In 0 degrees Celsius and gusty winds we boarded our final flight to Helsinki, Finland. We arrived at 2 p.m. for a tour of Helsinki to learn about its vast history and culture. Following the tour, we took a quick rest and joined our group for dinner. Tomorrow begins another exciting day! –Shelley Holt, Pre-K

Sunday, April 10

We began the week’s educational experience on Sunday by learning more about Finland’s history and culture. In the morning we traveled to the town of Porvoo, one of six medieval towns in Finland. Porvoo, We began the week’s educational experience on Sunday by learning more about Finland’s history and culture.  In the morning we traveled to the town of Porvoo, one of six medieval towns in Finland. Porvoo, which means castle on a river in Swedish, is 200 years older than Helsinki.  Finland’s long history with Sweden was evidenced here in the architecture, signs, and the number of residents (30%) who speak Swedish as their primary language.  After lunch we traveled to Suomenlinna Island, a World Heritage UNESCO site.  Here we learned more about Finland’s history with Russia.  On Suomenlinna Island (linna=castle) is a fortress built in the mid 1700s on one of 8 islands in an archipelago.  At this time the Swedish Empire was concerned about the developing city of St. Petersburg in Russia and built the fortress as a defense.  Finland was ceded to Russia by Sweden in 1809, and in 1917 Finland declared independence from Russia.  A few buildings still have the onion top design, though most were removed.  After we returned from Suomenlinna we had the opportunity to explore the waterfront market.  The evening was capped with a group meeting including the 16 educators joining us from Chicago and administrators from the schools we will visit tomorrow. –Christine Lindsey, US Science

Monday, April 11

Moi (Hello) from Finland! What an awesome day! Wow! We started our day at /Otaniemen Lukio Upper Secondary School for Mathematics and Natural Science in Espoo, a Helsinki suburb. The school mascot is the bear.

The school library at Otaniemen Lukio Upper Secondary School & a classroom at Otaniemen Lukio Upper Secondary School.

The school was designed in collaboration with the students. Students selected the colors, designed the mascot and were instrumental in deciding the layout and furnishings. One of the student’s top “wishes” for their communal space was the coolest indoor conversation swing set.  All morning, we were looking for a few spare minutes to try out those fabulous swings!

Our guest speaker, Jari Lavonen, Ph.D. and head of the Department of Teacher Training at Helsinki University, discussed design thinking and the innovative process of creating multidisciplinary learning modules and implementing and sustaining multidisciplinary courses. 
Mrs. Lindsey’s morning also included time in the high school robotics lab learning more about their program.  Mrs. Goostree, Mrs. Holt and Mrs. Cawood visited at nearby Laajalahti Elementary School. We sat in a third grade classroom as the teacher demonstrated how robotics is implemented in Finland for that age. Later, we watched the teacher start a project based learning activity on weather instruments with sixth grade students. 

Next, we headed back to the Secondary School to eat the school cafeteria lunch. Finland focuses on teaching healthy eating habits in children from an early age. Our menu was baked fish, boiled potatoes and other vegetables along with a salad and several toppings. 

Our afternoon was spent at Aalto University Junior. We observed high school students visiting the lab for the day to make and test  a compound of aspirin. 

Next, we headed upstairs to a classroom for our own hands-on activity. We assembled  a hydrogen-fueled model car as part of our discussion on the activities that Aalto does in their program. 

We ended our day with a breathtaking ride on the Ferris Wheel overlooking The Baltic Sea.

Our guide told us that the number one thing we should not miss is a visit to the Helsinki Central Library Public. She was right. It did not disappoint! When designing the library, a survey was sent out asking the residents what they would like to have in a library. The library’s second floor incorporates their wishes. This level offers everything from sewing machines, 3D printers, gaming rooms, oversized printing, meeting rooms, a demonstration kitchen, recording studios, green screens and video production equipment, and musical instruments that may be checked out with a library card. It was truly a fascinating place to see!   –Sherry Cawood, MS Social Studies

Tuesday, April 12

Greetings from Finland.  Tuesday, April 12, we ventured to the Eastern side of Helsinki.  We were split into two groups to pay a visit to two Finland schools.  

Mrs. Lindsey visited Vuosaari Upper Secondary School, (age groups 16 – 18).  As you can see, she had a close encounter with a unique Finnish guy…..

Puistopolku Comprehensive School, (age groups 7 – 15), welcomed Mrs. Cawood, Mrs. Holt, and me.  While there, we observed classes, held dialogues with teachers, and toured the school.  The Finns believe they are the world’s most impactful, equitable, and effective place for learning.  The government requires good schools for every student, for all to be respected as valued individuals, and a strong democratic school community.  We were amazed all the elementary schools are shoe free!  Notice the students, at their desks, are wearing only socks. 

Even visitors are required to wear shoe covers. Check out our fancy feet!

Our lunch, was at Luonnontiedelukio Upper Secondary School of Natural Sciences, in Helsinki.  The schools provide lunches for all students, and they are not allowed to bring lunches from home.  All students in elementary and secondary school self serve their lunches. 

The students are taught responsibility at an early age.  In some areas, groups of seven year olds and older walk home alone.  Parents are at work and homes are unlocked.

We visited Helsinki’s Design Museum for a dialogue dedicated to design thinking and learning in the Finnish education sector.  Finnish design has established a reputation as a flag bearer for equality.  Many of its most iconic design products have been perceived as having the ability to increase equality in daily lives.  The Design for Every Body exhibition addresses this idea.

The first unisex fashion collection was designed, for Marimekko, in 1968. The design was inspired by the American youth fashion trends and was hailed as a symbol of equality because everyone looked the same. 

Bordering the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, and Gulf of Finland, as well as Sweden, Norway, and Russia, Finland is the northernmost country in the European Union.  The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean enclosed by Finland, Estonia, and other European countries.  Upon an administrator’s request, (Guess who?), our tour guide was kind enough to stop the bus, so we could touch the Baltic Sea!  How intriguing! –Gina Goostree, Head of LS

Wednesday, April 13

For our last morning in Helsinki, we began our morning at the Olari School in Espoo, Finland.

Teachers shared about their programming and robotics program, mathematics, and science. We also watched a demonstration by the robotics club. After visiting classrooms, students gave us a tour of their wonderful school.

Next, we visited Code School Finland at the Helsinki Education Hub. Code School Finland works with schools and trains teachers to teach coding, programming, AI, and robotics. They walked us through the history of Finnish education, the unique Finnish approach, and the services they offer. 

Next, we were off to the ferry terminal. We travelled two hours across the Gulf of Finland to Tallin, Estonia.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by our Estonian guide and his family and given a very quick tour of the downtown Tallinn area. We checked into our hotel and set off on foot to explore the picturesque Tallinn Old Town. It is the best preserved medieval city in Northern Europe with  Gothic spires, winding cobblestone streets and absolutely enchanting architecture.

Lastly, Mrs. Lindsey stopped a couple of local police officers to complete a special request for Officer Dericho. These very kind officers gave a “challenge patch” to take back to Dericho along with their name and address for him to mail one back in return. –Shelley Holt, LS Teacher

Thursday, April 14

Tere (hello) from Tallinn! Thursday morning started with a visit to Tallinna XXI Kool, or Tallinn School 21. We were greeted by a beautiful performance from the choir. Silva and Michelle were our student guides on a tour of a first grade class, library, robotics lab, and music, physics, and math classes.  The walls are covered with incredible student art. Every year the school chooses a different country as a theme and the art reflects that choice. This year’s country is Egypt. The students were welcoming and answered many questions, and instructors shared the resources used to incorporate STEAM into as many classes as possible.Our second school is Pelgulinna Gymnasium, a grade 1-9 arts focused school with 850 students.  Pelgulinna’s motto is “Choose Create and Do”. We saw the school’s pool with a swimming lesson in session and were treated to a performance by the first grade music class. We participated in a robotics lesson with third graders before a presentation on the school’s mission and growth.The third and final school on our itinerary was Tallinn University. We learned about the Tallinn educational system and its history before spending time in the EduTech space.The evening will be spent exploring Tallinn’s beautiful Old Town. Good Friday is celebrated in Estonia so we will head to Lahemaa National Park tomorrow morning! –Christine Lindsey, US Science

Friday, April 15

This was a “Good Friday” in more ways than one! Today was spent learning more about the geography and history of Estonia. We started our cold, rainy morning with a visit to an ancient burial site.

Next, we toured two manor houses built in the 1700’s and learned the history of the families that built them. 

We traveled about an hour outside of the city of Tallinn to Lahemaa National Park. We hiked along the icy trail through the bogs.. Our guide stressed that if we accidentally stepped off the trail pathway, that our footprint would remain for 15 to 20 years due to the composition of the bog.

The trees in the forrest are about 150 years old. The guide had everyone in our group place a hand on the tree to focus on the tranquility in nature and the inner peace one can find when connecting with nature.

Our view from the scenic overlook of the bogs and forrest. 

Our next stop was in a quaint little fishing village on The Baltic Sea for the loveliest lunch of smoked salmon, boiled potatoes and rhubarb squares. We toured the Maritime Museum and got to touch the The Baltic Sea once again, but on the opposite shoreline from earlier in the week.

We ended the day back in the capital city of Tallinn exploring The Medieval Old Town. It’s a full moon and the 500 year old buildings looked like something straight out of a fairy tale. The night was absolutely magical! –Sherry Cawood, MS Social Studies 

Saturday, April 17

We began our long journey home! Thanks to all who followed along!

Washington, D.C.

Follow along as Clarksville Academy’s 8th and 9th-grade students explore our nation’s capitol!

Monday, March 21, 2022

The buses left campus bright and early at 5:30 A.M. Fifty-nine students and adults are off on a grand adventure! After a wonderful dinner at a local eatery, Boylan Heights, the students then crossed the street to take a tour of the University of Virginia.

UVA was chartered in 1819, and the first-class began in 1825. The history is really amazing. Some areas of note: the new memorial dedicated to the enslaved people who built many of the buildings on campus, the Rotunda, the Academical Village, where both faculty and students have lived, with faculty upstairs and students downstairs, the yard which is in the center of village (or quad as many schools call it), a portion of the Berlin Wall which was placed after its collapse, and Edgar Allen Poe’s dorm room! We also drove past the athletic fields and arena. It was a full evening, and all the students loved it. We begin bright and early tomorrow with a trip to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, then DC in the afternoon! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Today was the most fantastic day for our students! We began the day at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. We wandered through the gift shop and the museum upon our arrival. We then boarded the tram that took us to the house. Once there, our group divided into three groups and began our tour of the house and grounds. Students were able to walk freely around the gardens, grounds, and slave quarters. Each group then visited the first floor of the house. We then walked back to the visitors center, passing his grave site on the way.

A few interesting facts we learned:

  • There was no such thing as a right or left shoe in Jefferson’s time; you simply got up and put a shoe on a foot!
  • Although space was tight in the large home, Jefferson’s quarters took up a large part of the main floor.
  • The dining room was painted a bright yellow in order to make it feel larger and brighter.
  • As an avid inventor, Jefferson came up with many unique things, like the clocks on the inside and outside of the east door. (There was no front or back door, simply east or west.) The clocks had four labeled as IIII, not IV; the outdoor one only had one hand, while the interior one had three hands. There is also a set of metal ball weights on a rope that signify what day it is, but he ran out of room for Saturday, which is found in the cellar. 

After leaving Monticello, we enjoyed a box lunch and a quick nap as we drove toward D.C.! In the early evening, we entered the city and did a short driving tour past several embassies. We stopped for dinner at a local cantina and then went through three of the monuments for a night stroll. We visited the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (a few of our students found the names of their family members), and the Lincoln Memorial. It was a fantastic night, and our students were so attentive and respectful at each location. We finally reached our hotel at 11:30 PM and have turned in for the night! We have a full day tomorrow to include Arlington National Cemetery topped off with a chance of heavy rain! Be sure to follow along all day on social media sites in the stories.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Our group left the hotel bright and early and made our first stop at Lafayette Park for a White House photo op. The students really enjoyed their time and took many photos.

We left the White House and headed to the WWII Memorial and for a photo op in front of the Washington Monument. The students were so respectful as we learned about the Memorial and took some time to walk through it.

After our time with the monuments we took a moment to walk across the street to Tidal Basin and enjoyed the cherry blossoms at their peak bloom! It was simply gorgeous and our students loved taking photos with them. Coach Adam Welch even caught a couple of gorgeous photos of the blooms.

The next stop in our day was the Natural History Museum where students got lunch and spent time exploring the museum. There were many favorites at the museum.

The last stop of the day was Arlington National Cemetery. Our students not only learned a lot, they were so respectful from start to finish. It was cold and rainy for the majority of our trip, but our students made the most of it. We left the visitors center and walked in the rain to Kennedy’s tomb.

From there the students quietly walked to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to witness the changing of the guard and the Wreath Presentation. This was a somber experience for most of our students, but one they each took in. We were lucky to have CA students participate in the Wreath Ceremony. Wyatt McQueen, Tanner Wilson, Anna Hellums, and Lilly McAlister were able to participate in the ceremony and present the wreath at the tomb. (Check out part of the video on our social media.)

After the ceremony one of the guards took the group into the amphitheater around back and allowed our students to ask questions. Our tour guide said this was the first of any of her tours to participate in a Q&A with a soldier.

Finally we ended our trip to Arlington with a special stop. Nora Shea’s Great Grandfather, Col William J. Keating is buried at Arlington. Nora and a few friends, along with our guide and Mrs. Allen travelled to find Col Keating’s grave. This was a special experience for Nora and her friends.

Before dinner the group made quick stops for photos at the Marine Corp and Air Force monuments. Our students and staff had a wonderful, full day that they will never forget.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

This morning began with breakfast at 7:00 AM and on the bus by 8:00. We rushed to Mt. Vernon to visit the home of George Washington and take in the grounds. It was impressive. We took at quick group photo at the start of the driveway and then headed into the house. The tour was quick, but impressive. The simplicity of some things, but grandeur of others was interesting. The stairway railing was original and made of walnut. They invited you hold on to it as you journeyed to the top floor and think of all the people before you who had touched it. The kitchen was added later and separated from the rest of the house. The students found the grounds the most interesting. A visit down a path out back led us to a burial area of slaves. In recent years, special ground detection equipment has been used to identify burial grounds. Many, many painted rocks were placed and burial sites outlined in this area. It was a somber sight to see. We visited Washington’s burial site and our students were so respectful as we walked the grounds. We then walked to the museum. This was very interesting for our students (and adults) and we learned so much. A crowd favorite was seeing his actual teeth on display!

We then grabbed a box lunch and boarded the buses back into the city. We went straight to the Archives to view the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Magna Carta. This was an exciting thing for our students. (No cameras were allowed inside.)

Our next stop was the Ford Theatre. We were disappointed to find out the actual theatre was closed for tours, but our students made the most of the museum.

Our next stop was the Tidal Basin. Coming to D.C. during the peak week for cherry blossoms is just an added bonus. The basin really put on a show for us today! The group began at Thomas Jefferson’s memorial for a few quick photos. We then walked to FDR and walked through this interesting memorial of his life which included a memorial to his wife as well. We continued through the cherry blossoms to the MLK Memorial. There is something so breathtaking about coming around the trees and seeing this memorial. Our students were so well behaved and took the time to really honor these men. It was a long, cold walk, but oh so worth it.

By this time it was late in the day and the students were ready to hit the Spy Museum. This unique experience gave us the lighthearted fun they needed. Upon leaving there, we were treated to pizza and bowling at a local favorite!

Students returned to the hotel to shower and prepare for another long day tomorrow. This has been such an amazing trip for all!

Friday, March 25, 2022

Today was our last full day, and we kept them busy! The day began early and with a photo op in front of the US Capitol. We spent a while in this area, allowing students to take selfies and photos on both the east and west lawn of the Capitol. We then took an outdoor walking tour that encompassed a quick look at the Congressional and Senate buildings, the Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court.

Upon leaving Capitol Hill, the students visited the newly opened African American Museum. Clarksville’s own Wilma Rudolph was honored in the sports exhibit, which took up an entire floor. Students found themselves drawn to exhibits of sports and music. The students enjoyed our time there. We then walked across the street to the American History Museum. The first stop was to see the original flag flown during the Battle of Baltimore, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write his famous lyrics for the Star-Spangled Banner. Many were shocked by its size-30-by 34-feet. No photography was allowed in this exhibit, but it is one that won’t soon be forgotten. We visited the exhibit hall with Dorothy’s Ruby Red Slippers, saw Julia Child’s kitchen, and viewed the First Lady’s gowns and china, to name just a few.

After leaving our last museum, the students were given the opportunity to enjoy the sunshine on the National Mall lawn. I will admit, many students thought we were going shopping when we said we were going over to the mall for a bit! This time to unplug, run around, sit and talk was much needed. Some even played football with a shoe!

We left the mall and headed to the Potomac! Our group spent the evening on a sunset cruise along the Potomac. Dinner, dancing, and sightseeing were all on tap. Our students had THE best time and were shocked to learn, even their chaperones knew some of the music! 🙂

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Today dawned bright and early. Students and staff grabbed a quick bite and boarded the buses home. It has been a wonderful week learning and growing together. New friendships formed, old friendships deepened. Our last stop for learning was the Natural Bridge in Rockbridge County, Virginia. The 215-foot tall Natural Bridge is a limestone gorge carved out by Cedar Creek. It was once owned by Thomas Jefferson, who sold the bridge for around $160. It was a cold, snowy (yes SNOW) walk down into the gorge, but worth the views once we arrived.

This week has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many of our students. To see this city and experience these things with their classmates will be unforgettable. This group was complemented by many of the places we visited. They were polite, well-behaved, and listened attentively (most days 🙂 ). We are truly #CougarProud of this group as #CAtakesDC

Winterim 2022

January 8, 2022

Aloha! Today we woke up bright and early to hit the road on the surf bus! We had the BEST driver who gave us lots of information about the history and geography of Hawaii. He also let us take pictures at some scenic stops! We headed north to Waimea Falls, where we began our 30-minute hike up to the waterfall. The water was freezing, but we all had so much fun jumping in. after we hiked down, we were able to stop at Haleiwa, where we ate some delicious burgers, amazing Hawaiian shave ice, and browsed some charming little shops. after this, we boarded the surf bus. We headed to a quick stop at the Dole Plantation, where we could shop in the gigantic gift shop and sample the iconic dole whip! We headed back to the hotel to get ready for our sunset dinner cruise, where we enjoyed a delicious dinner and a fabulous Polynesian show and took tons of sunset pictures! after we left the dinner, we went out for one final run to the ABC store and headed into our hotel to pack up for our early flight home. (Graysie ’22)

January 7, 2022

Southern Cities

Today began our last day of touring; we headed out to Patriot’s Point to take a self-guided tour through the USS Yorktown. We toured the flight deck, museums on the ship, and some of us sat in the Captain’s bridge seats and even saw a dolphin. We then had a picnic-style lunch on the bus.

After lunch, we boarded our boat for the tour to Fort Sumter. At Fort Sumter, we had a guided tour and some time to explore independently. The fort saw the first casualties of the Civil War, but interestingly not during the 34-hour bombardment. After the Union surrendered the fort to the South Carolinian confederate troops, two men were killed during a 100 gun salute. The Confederacy would hold the fort, under constant attack, until February 1865, when General William T. Sherman swept through the south, leaving a trail of fire, destruction, and fear in his wake.

We boarded the boat to head back to Charleston for a carriage tour. Our carriage was pulled by a draft horse named Gibbes, an old Charlestonian name. Gibbes just returned from a long vacation after the carriage company rotated their horses from work to open fields; they do this routinely. The draft horses in Charleston have usually rescued horses, and the adoption extends their life by approximately ten years longer than if they had been left in their previous conditions. While on tour, we learned about the city’s modern culture, houses and rode through the college campus. The students got to pet Gibbes before heading back to the bus for dinner.

Our final night on the trip, dinner was a relaxed affair at Andolini’s Pizza, where we shared (family style) breadsticks and pizza; we each got our bowl of salad, spaghetti, and a chocolate chip cookie. After everyone had time to shower and pack up for our early morning departure, some of us partook in a fierce hand of Uno. It was a great way to finish the trip! Once back at the hotel, we said goodbye to our phenomenal tour guide, Robin. In the morning, we will board the bus, with the talented Kenny at the helm, to head home full of stories, experiences, and great memories.


We started the day at 10:30 for pickup, and it was a lovely morning because we got lots of rest! Our tour guide was Earl, who we love, but he tends to make many stops, so the bus ride took a while. We stopped at many scenic spots to take pictures, and Earl informed us of each site and its significance. On our way to the Polynesian Cultural Center, we stopped at Fumi’s to eat. They only have eight items on the menu, and it’s all shrimp—except one chicken item. The shrimp was super fresh and yummy! There was also a live performer singing while we ate outside; his name was Woody. He made lots of jokes and was a good singer. After that, we were off to the Polynesian Cultural Center. We were greeted by our tour guide Lorran (pronounced Lohan), from Brazil, when we got there. He was an excellent tour guide and showed us each of the highlighted islands at the center. My favorite island was Samoa. The show we watched there was super funny and entertaining. We also went on a canoe ride through the “islands.” After going through each island and learning about their cultures, we made our way to the Luau. We were greeted with beautiful purple leis. It was an all-you-can-eat buffet. There was a variety of Hawaiian foods. My personal favorites were the poke, taro buns, pineapple smoothies, and chocolate gelato. We ate while we watched the luau show, it was very entertaining with graceful dancers. After the Luau, we moved onto the theater to watch a performance. I didn’t know what to expect going into this, and I thought we were watching a movie. But, it was a live performance, and it was spectacular! The story was captivating, and the performers were incredible. The coolest part was probably the fire performers. After the show was over, we headed back to the hotel. It was a long day, but probably my favorite day we’ve had so far. I learned so much about the islands’ culture and had fun while learning! (Molly, ’22)

January 6, 2022


The group started the day a little later than the previous days. We hopped on the bus that took us to the boat dock! Although we didn’t get to snorkel because of the waves and currents, we got to see sea turtles and whales! The whale put on a bit of show for us with his giant tail. We experienced our first full sunny day of the trip! After a few hours of lying in the sun, we were all hungry. The boat provided lots of good food for us. We had pork sandwiches, teriyaki chicken, rice, salad, and pineapples! After everyone finished eating, the captain drove us back to land. Once we got back to the hotel, we split up for dinner and said goodnight! (Katie Thrash, ’22)


The final dives were amazing! These students showed so much growth in the last few days and are wonderful divers. We cannot wait for our next experience!


We were up early and on the boat by 8:30 for our snorkel trip, after a 45-minute boat ride to the coral reef. At the coral reef, students observed marine life in its natural habitat. We even got to see the Christ of the Abyss statue on our snorkel trip. After snorkeling and a quick lunch stop, we went to the Mangrove forest for a kayaking trip. This was a 3.5-hour adventure through the Mangrove forests of Key Largo. We got to see numerous marine life to include starfish and jellyfish. We had to learn how to work together as a pair to navigate kayaks through extremely narrow tunnels and passageways, with lots of us running into the trees. After a 30 minute break to change, we went to dinner and then to Dolphins Plus for our night program. We learned about the ecology of the intertidal zones and the different phyla found within the Animal Kingdom. We touched and held numerous marine life to include stone crabs, lobsters, starfish, shrimp, sea urchins, and coral. After this, we broke into pairs and did a squid dissection. We learned about the anatomy and physiology of the squid. The squid used was sushi grade squid, so students could taste test if they wished.

Southern Cities

This morning we went to Boone Hall Plantation, the longest operating plantation in the country. Because of its more remote location, Boone Plantation survived wars and continued to operate through at least two depressions. It still produces a variety of goods from strawberries and blueberries to buckwheat and corn, and they even produce their own honey and candles. Boone Hall has also been the set of famous movies and tv series: North and South, Queen (the follow up to Roots), and most recently, The Notebook. The Avenue of Oaks, the entry to the plantation, is also one of the most photographed locations in the south, for a good reason; it is beautiful, and the oaks that line the drive have been there for almost two centuries!

Our next tour had us walking through historic Charleston, where we learned about the buildings, houses, and churches that give Charleston the nickname of the “Holy City.” Then we had the opportunity to shop in the famous City Market, full of local goods and artisans.

The next stop for the day was Fort Moultrie, known for many things, but specifically the posting of Edgar Allen Poe. The fort has seen several upgrades over the years and was a lookout point beginning during the American Revolution through World War II. One of the most interesting things we learned about was the disappearance of the first attack submarine, the Hunley. It is now in a museum, after being lost during the Civil War and rediscovered by an effort funded by author Clive Cussler. The Hunley was recovered in the harbor, just off the Cooper River, by joint federal and private company efforts.

Dinner at Hyman’s was an awesome experience, students tried fried green tomatoes, clam chowder, and some gave raw oysters a shot! The food was fabulous and the meal one of the best so far. After dinner, we met our tour guide Zach (with Bulldog Tours), for our ghost tour of the Holy City. To say that we got a spooky tour would be putting it mildly. One thing is for sure; the students can tell you the difference between a graveyard and a cemetery, a plateye and boohag, and what haints are!

January 5, 2022


We went and explored the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, FL. We were able to see surgery performed on a rescued sea turtle. We learned about the effects of water pollution on sea turtles and how human activities and human interactions harm the turtles. Students were able to interact and feed the resident rescue sea turtles and observe the rescued injured/ sick sea turtles. We then went to Seven Mile Bridge and Pennekamp State Park. At Pennekamp, we went over proper water etiquette and safety while snorkeling. Students learned how to use their snorkel gear properly and then practiced within the small coral reef. That evening we did a student activity on adaptions found in animals as a team-building activity.

Lifeguard Certification

Today our students worked on CPR training and responding to injuries and illnesses.

Southern Cities

Wednesday afternoon, after our walking tour of Savannah, we boarded our bus and drove to North Charleston to visit the Magnolia Plantation owned by the Drayton family. The Drayton family has owned the plantation for 13 generations without interruption, retaining ownership through both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. The tour we took was called “From Slavery to Freedom” and is told from the point of view of the slaves that worked the plantation. Students toured a variety of slave cottages that have been salvaged and reconstructed to display different periods beginning with an 1850 structure when the original 11 cabins were built until 1990 when the houses were vacated. Each cabin was a duplex that housed two families before the Civil War. Our guide was Joe McGill, originally from Kingstree, SC. He is currently working on a book, Sleeping with Ancestors (working title). Joe is the founder of a project called “The Slave Dwelling Project,” attempting to change the narrative of plantation history. Not erase it or stop it, but the behind-the-scenes history tells the story of those who provided the framework for the storybook, “Gone with the Wind” plantation life often told. After the guided tour, we split up into groups and explored the property, some visiting the animals, others the gardens, and all taking in the beauty of our surroundings.
Upon leaving Magnolia Plantation, the group cut loose and had dinner at Frankie’s Fun Park. We played arcade games, putt-putt golf, hit a few pitches in the batting cages and raced around the track in Go Karts. We had a wonderful time, some of us setting records on the arcade games: Mrs. Hotchkin and Connor played a game collecting seven character cards to win a jackpot prize of 2,500 points (in all, they won 3,700), while Coach Kretz set the new high score on the basketball “Hot Shot” game, and Colby and Miya racked up over 2,200 points on various games. While the games were fun, the prizes were even better and quite hilarious! It was a great way to end our day of travel and the first night in Charleston.


Yesterday our Scuba Winterim Group did their deepest dive to date. The Group embarked on a shelf dive of Planacar Cave Reef. Reaching a maximum depth of 80 feet, students swam through an amazing reef on the shelf off the island’s western side. Weaving in and out of canyons of coral formations and swim-throughs, they saw incredible coral formations, spotted eagle rays, and various tropical fish. The group went on their first night dive using lights swam around the reef and were able to see nocturnal aquatic life. Students saw many lobsters, small rays, a large lion fish and even got a rare squid and octopus sighting!!


Today students learned how to create a bust using red clay. After thinking about what to make and sculpting the piece, we had to invert the busts on a sponge and hollow them out for drying. Students created celebrities, cartoon characters, animals, and skulls. In the afternoon, we had the opportunity to tour APSU’s beautiful campus with a senior ambassador.

College Tours

Today our group travelled to Memphis and visited Christian Brothers University and the University of Memphis. It was a wonderful trip and they were so glad to experience a little bit of Memphis while there.

Local Government

Today we started off our trip early by driving to Nashville at 8 a.m; our first stop was to the Tennessee State Library and Archives. We got a behind-the-scenes tour of how historical documents are processed and shelved when we entered the library. One of the stops for books or paperwork would be in the blast freezer. We got to experience minus 30 degrees temperature in this freezer, which kills mold and other impurities that could damage the historical documents. Our second stop for the day was at the Tennessee State Museum. We got to tour artifacts from when Tennessee was first made a state and tour artifacts from World War II. Our last stop was for lunch at Farmer’s Market. While there, the girls on our trip got a ten scoop ice cream plate.

Learning to Coach

Students were able to see firsthand a behind-the-scenes look at the necessary planning it takes to properly deliver instruction or lesson as both a teacher and a coach. Following the development of their teaching and coaching plans, students would provide their instructions to the rest of the class as a taught lesson or practice segment of their choice.

International Food & Film

Day three of International Food and Film!! We discovered the sights and sounds of India! Dr. Booth cooked Chickpea Curry, Basmati Rice, Garlic Naan, and Chai Tea for the students! They watched the Indian Film Lunchbox!


We woke up early and went on the bus at 7 a.m. Our bus driver, Earl, was the best- he’s a native Hawaiian and drove us around and told us about all the landmarks we passed. We went horseback riding at the Kualoa Ranch for about an hour and a half. Many movies have been filmed here; we saw scenes from Jurassic World, Curious George, Jumanji, and many more. We then went to the secret island beach, where we took another boat out to the island. We kayaked, paddle boarded, and played volleyball after we went back to the hotel and then went to dinner.(Noah Goble ’22)


Today we went to Weakley Park and did team sports. We played seven on seven two-hand touch football and Spike Ball teams. After lunch, we went to Rotary Park and explored the several different offerings that they have there.

January 4, 2022


The morning saw us go for a guided tour of the San Gervasio Mayan ruins, approximately 10,000 years old. The afternoon has seen us back on the water for two boat dives, where the kids dove to depths of 70ft on the reef. They saw turtles, moray eels, and a few sharks. We will be back in the water for a night dive with the nocturnal octopus and fishes tonight.


Today we were on the bus at 7 am and headed to Pearl Harbor. We learned a lot about what happened on December 7, 1941. They repurposed most of the ships and turned them into a memorial. Next, we when to the USS Missouri. It was so cool. We were able to explore the boat and see the living conditions of the sailors. It started pouring down hard while we were there, but we managed to make it fun! Then, we went to the Iolani Palace, where the last queen and king of Hawaii lived. It was beautiful. After that, we went back to our hotel, and most of us went to the beach, ate dinner, and went to sleep. (Brooke Keifer, ’22)

Southern Cities

Tuesday was our last days in Savannah, GA. Tuesday, we started bright and early with a tour of Fort Pulaski. Our interpreter, Ranger Joel, took us on an exciting and very informative tour of the Fort. During the tour, we stood in the magazine room (the room reserved for gunpowder) and learned how close Fort Pulaski was to being nothing but a crater in the ground when the Union took the Fort during the Civil War. Initially, the brick walls we saw would have been covered by wood slats, but at some point, those were removed. Because of this, we got a chance to see a part of history that would otherwise have been missed: the fingerprints embedded in the bricks while they were being formed by the enslaved men, women, and children who constructed them. As Ranger Joel said, “History is in the details. The only reason we get to see this is because we never fully restored the magazine.” And he is so right; history is in the details, the personal lives of those that have come before. The thought is enough to give you chills, especially when you know you are walking in a place that housed not only people hundreds of years before but retains their literal fingerprints throughout time.

We then boarded our bus and drove to Tybee Island for lunch and a tour of the historic Lighthouse and learned about its history and that of its keepers. The Lighthouse has seen some historical moments, from the town’s foundation, through the Civil War, to weathering storms today. During the Civil War era, Confederate troops, not wanting the Lighthouse to be used against them, decided to burn down the wooden staircase inside and removed the small lens from the light. To this day, no one knows where the lens is; it is believed to be quite valuable if someone were to find it! The current lens in the Lighthouse was installed as a replacement in 1867, and can be seen for up to 18-22 miles at sea.

Immediately after the lighthouse tour, we met with Dr. Joe for an ecology tour. We were featured on his Facebook Page, Tybee Beach Ecology Trips, and Tybee Beachcomber! Students had a blast learning about beach ecology and dove into the experiential learning (some literally, into the water).

The busy day wrapped up with a ghost tour through Savannah and dinner at the Pirate House. Duels and disease and murders, oh my! We had a blast learning the darker history of Savannah; we just hope we don’t bring any ghosts home with us.

College Tours

This group visited Lipscomb University and MTSU. The students enjoyed seeing both campuses.

Lifeguard Certification

We started the morning off by going over our drills, from jumping into the pool from the lifeguard stand to all the different methods of helping a drowning victim out of the pool. They were able to train using the backboard to get someone out of the pool. The most intense workout they felt was combining a deep dive rescue with the bodyboard to lift them out of the pool.

Local Government

We started early on today’s trip by going to Fort Donelson National Park. When we first got to our location, a bald eagle flew over directly over us and to his nest. We then toured where confederate and union soldiers would be housed. We then had an up-close view of the same cannons that were fired in the civil war, and there we learned how to shoot the cannons and the roles of everyone involved. Later, we went to Fort Donelson National Cemetery, and we got to see all of the fallen confederate and union soldiers’ graves. Around lunchtime, we went to Lance’s for pizza and subs and then headed back to the school to end our day.


Today we participated in organized kickball and soccer at Liberty Park. Afterward, our group traveled to American Pride Boxing on Wilma Rudolph Blvd. for a private boxing lesson. Students were challenged with a hard workout, but were praised by the coaches. They were excited for the days adventures and want to return to American Pride soon!


Students spent the day at Shark Valley in the Everglades yesterday. They got to have up-close interactions with the wildlife in its natural habitat. We learned why conservation is so important for our environment and how human impact has been so detrimental to our planet. Students took a tram tour through the River of Grass in the Everglades and learned that while the water looks stagnant, it moves about 100 ft per second. We finished the day with a sunset over the Keys and ice cream from the Key Largo Chocolate Shop. (Alyssa Ray)


Students are hand molding clay and returning to the potter’s wheel. In the afternoon we will learn from Dr. Kim about his professional experience.

College Visits

Eleven students kicked off a week of college campus visits with a brisk walk to Austin Peay State University. Despite the cold weather, they enjoyed a full tour of the campus. Some “Peay” worthy stops were the new Art+Design building where student artwork covered the walls, including a colorful display of hanging streamers, and the Sundquist Science building where the ceiling depicted vivid murals displaying the university’s history. Students had the opportunity to see inside student dormitories, which featured hotel-style rooms with their own showers and plenty of counter space! After the tour, they visited the Austin Peay bookstore — for Starbucks and some shopping —before returning to CA to prepare for a week of road trips.

International Food & Film

Day two was crepes and cappuccinos from Madeleine’s as Dr. Booth’s International Food Food and Film Winterim explored French Cuisine and Culture. Students learned cinema originated in France and watched Francois Truffaut’s 400 Blows!

January 3, 2022


We all woke up at 8:00, got ready, and headed to get some breakfast. It was very rainy today, so we did some shopping. We ended up going to get açaí bowls, musubis, and some fruit at a little restaurant on Kalakaua Street. Afterward, we all went back to the hotel to play some card games, and then the beautiful Hawaiian sun came out. We all came to the beach to swim and get some vitamin D. My favorite part was swimming, enjoying the clear Hawaiian ocean water, and listening to music on the beach with my friends. After the beach, we all went to dinner at the hotel. Many of our meals consisted of tuna bowls, fish, rice, and shrimp. We all have a big day tomorrow, and after dinner, we decided to go to bed earlier. (Written by Ayden Kujawa ’22)


Mrs. Alyssa Ray and Mr. Brian Kueter along with fifteen students boarded their plane to Florida yesterday. After an extended time on the tarmac, the students finally arrived and were ready for an adventure! The group went straight to the Everglades and it was an experience they will never forget. Students were able to experience the Everglades at night in complete darkness. They learned about invasive species that can be found there as well as the profound ecological importance of the Everglades. Students used flashlights to count alligators. Their eyes glow red at night reflecting the light.

Southern Cities

Today, we started off walking in the steps of Martin Luther King Jr. We visited the home he was born in, the Church in which he preached in Atlanta, and learned about the six principles of nonviolent protest while visiting the reflecting pool where MLK Jr. and his wife, Coretta, are buried. We then traveled to the Atlanta Aquarium. The group watched an amazing dolphin show and learned about training dolphins. Did you know that dolphin trainers work for at least a year with a dolphin out of water before ever training in the water? For lunch we visited a local Atlanta favorite, The Varsity. It has a long history and tradition of serving delicious burgers and hotdogs, along with a signature orange drink served as a soda or shake. Now that we are ending our second day of travel, we find ourselves in the beautiful city of Savannah, also known as America’s most haunted city! It is now time for bed to rest for a new adventure, in a new place, tomorrow. (Written by Kristen Kretz)

Local History & Government

Coach Trent’s began the week with a few guest speakers. Monday we enjoyed a presentation entitled “A Day in the Life of a Civil War Soldier”, presented by William Parker, CA ’84, who is the Historical Interpreter at Fort Defiance. During the afternoon session a presentation by park ranger Susan Hawkins, from Fort Donelson National Park. (Written by Lydia Ramos ’24)

Lifeguard Certification

Ms. Hardison’s group had a wonderful first day of lessons. They spent time learning how to enter the water safely and how to extract victims. They also had a lesson on how to deep dive into the water. At the end of this week the goal is to be lifeguard certified!


Clarksville Academy is partnering with the Community School of the Arts at APSU for a ceramics winterim.  Eleven students and Mrs. Lindsey are learning about different techniques from Dr. Wansoo Kim.  On day one they learned throwing on a potter’s wheel.  Students made mugs, bowls, and mushrooms for fairy gardens. When the items are dry they will be fired and glazed.  Students are already looking ahead to future projects, such as sculpting a head in clay. 

International Food & Film

Dr. Danica Booth’s group of twelve students enjoyed their first day learning about a new culture. Students explored elements of Japanese Culture, Cuisine, and Cinema in the morning and dined on Bento Boxes from Fujiyama while watching Ponyo in the afternoon. Students found the experience delicious and enlightening.


Shaine Walker’s Fitness jumped into the new year in a big way! This group of eighteen Junior and Senior boys began the morning with an overview of their week. The goal this week? Learn more about alternate fitness opportunities in our community and to develop a healthier lifestyle. Today’s stop was DEFY jump zone. The group enjoyed various team building activities while burning many, many calories! The week includes boxing, yoga, golf, and more!

January 2, 2022


The morning began early for our group traveling to Hawaii. We started our day very early, at 3 AM at the airport. We flew to Phoenix and then to Honolulu. After 14 hours in the airport, we had finally made it. We checked into our hotel and went to find somewhere to eat. We ate at an outdoor restaurant where everyone was glad to have an actual meal. We got to watch the sunset on the beach and walk along the shore. We ended our night by sitting in one of the girl’s rooms telling stories and just hanging out. After a long day of traveling, we were all happy to finally be inHawaii!Traveling with Ms. Piper Bell and Mrs. Lori Peay are a group of fifteen seniors. (Written by Bella Allen ’22)

Southern Cities

The morning began early for this group as well, boarding their charter bus at 6:00 AM. Ms. Kristen Kretz and Mrs. Amy Hotchkin will travel with ten students in a whirlwind trip of the south. Ms. Kretz sent an update on their first day: “Our Tour of Southern Cities began at 6:00am this morning as ten students and two chaperones boarded the charter bus to head for the first destination: Atlanta, Georgia. After a quiet, sleepy, and thankfully clear route we reached the National Center for Civil and Human rights. We spent time learning about the Civil Rights movement throughout the Southeast in the 1960s and 1970s (including the Freedom Riders and the Great March/The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom). We also spent time learning about a variety of human rights activism all over the world today, and the steps governments are and have been attempting to take in order to curtail atrocities committed against subjugated people.  We then had a quick lunch and headed to the World of Coca-Cola. Our group learned about the history of the Coca-Cola company, from the creator to its modern form we all recognize today. We were able to interact with displays, create our own bottle designs, smell ingredients of the different sodas, and taste Coca-Cola products from around the world!  Finally, we stopped for dinner at Mary Mac’s Tea Room, the last restaurant of its kind. Mary Mac’s has a unique history, in that it was once one in a collection of 16 Tea Rooms in Atlanta. These Tea Rooms, as explained by our server George, were started by war widows to feed their children during a time when it was uncommon for women to own and operate businesses (1940’s). Today, Mary Mac’s carries on the tradition of that era, and was their favorite part of the day. Everything in Mary Mac’s is made onsite and never frozen, from the bread and cinnamon rolls, fried chicken and mac-n-cheese, to the warm peach cobbler. Southern cuisine was on prime display and did not disappoint, neither the Sweet Tea! Students (all of us really) have been pleasantly surprised by the things we have learned so far, and we are looking forward to further adventures this week. Afterall, that is the point of this Southern Cities experience, to vacate the norm, branch out, learn and experience southern culture in a new way! Many in the group are from the south, but all of us have new experiences ahead and lifelong memories and stories to bring home.”

January 1, 2022


We are off! Winterim kicked off with our first group traveling to Mexico. Christie Burger and Tony Sonnabend traveled with ten students to Cozumel, Mexico for a week of scuba diving. Upon their arrival, this group enjoyed their first sunset on the beach.

Join us as we follow along with our fabulous 2022 Winterim groups on some amazing experiences!

  • Scuba Diving in Mexico – Christi Burger & Tony Sonnabend
  • Florida:  A Splash into Science – Alyssa Ray & Adam Welch
  • Tour of Southern Cities – Kristen Kretz
  • Hawaii – Piper Bell & Lori Peay
  • Ceramics @ APSU – Christine Lindsey
  • Local History & Government – Mike Trent & Bob Baker
  • Fitness – Shaine Walker
  • International Food & Film – Dr. Booth
  • American Red Cross Lifeguard Certification – Nicole Hardison
  • Building Coaches of the Future – Stan Rozar
  • College Campus Visits – Jill Sleigh & Sarah Perry

Winterim begins January 2, 2022.

Begin Your Journey.