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Spring View students prepare for a taste of Italy

By: Eileen Wilson, Special to The Placer Herald
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Mention a good looking, young man named Leonardo in Rosemarie Groth’s seventh-grade social studies classroom, and the kids will tell you, not about a famous actor, but about one of the most famous artists and inventors of the Italian Renaissance. A handful of Spring View Middle School students, under Groth’s tutelage, are boning up on Botticelli and Brunelleschi, in preparation for a life-changing tour of Italy this summer. The trip, though not school sponsored, will be the first of its kind in a junior high school in the Rocklin District. But visiting Europe, students in tow, won’t be a first for Groth. This will be Groth’s fifth trip to Europe as a teacher and chaperone — twice to Italy, and twice to England and France, and she can’t wait to get her feet back on Italian soil. History has been Groth’s passion for years, and she imparts that passion to her students every day. “I was going to be a science teacher, like my dad, but I got involved in history and never looked back,” Groth said. “My degree is in history and English, and I also had an emphasis in drama.” While student travel isn’t unusual, it’s far more common for high schoolers to undertake a European adventure, than for those of the middle-school set. But middle school is the perfect time to expose kids to international travel, arts and architecture, according to Groth. “Junior high is the best time to go because they’re focused on what they’re learning, rather than on the social aspect. I’ve seen high school kids go, and they’re more focused on getting away from home and just having a good time,” Groth said. Kids who are preparing to travel, like seventh-grader Bridget Fischer, can’t wait to see social studies come to life when they arrive in a place where antiquities and modern architecture go hand in hand. “I’ve studied ancient Rome this year,” Fischer said. “My mom has been to Europe a few times, I just want to experience it.” Groth pointed out the gladiators and Doric columns on Fischer’s social studies project — a testament to the fact that she’s got one foot in Italy already. Eighth-grade student, Alex Witt said he is excited to see the ancient, but is more interested in art and architecture that’s more modern — well, less than 1,000 years old, anyway. “Last year we studied the Renaissance — I really want to see the art, the statue of David,” Witt said. “I want to ride in a gondola in Venice, and I can’t wait to see the Coliseum in Rome.” The kids will see these sights and more on the nine-day trip to Italy, through Education First Tours. Groth has traveled extensively with Education First Tours, and trusts the company — their stability and international contacts. “Italy is a safe country and EF has a lot of safety measures put in to place,” Groth said. “We will have a tour guide with us at all times — a guide who speaks the language, and will never leave us. EF has a presence all over the world and they’re totally accessible.” In addition, Groth said guides carry mobile phones at all times and are prepared to handle any emergency. The kids, of course, are more interested in gondolas, gladiators and fun-filled adventure, than they are in tour guides and safety records. Groth will begin the tour in Venice, where kids will ride the world-famous gondolas, and see artisans practice the centuries-old art of glass blowing, then on to Florence to revel in the birthplace of the modern world, including the statue of David and Brunelleschi’s Dome. Next up, a drive through the Tuscan countryside, south to Rome, and Vatican City, where kids will tour the Coliseum, and see the awe-inspiring sight-of-a lifetime, the Sistine Chapel. Seeing historical sites first hand is a must for today’s students, Groth said. “Travel gives them a head start on the future,” Groth said. “I’m passionate about the fact that world travel changes student perspective. I have seen it influence career direction many times. It is one thing to learn about world history in a book, but it means so much more when they get to experience life in another country. And today, cultural knowledge is more important than ever,” Groth said. Angela Ziegenhorn, mom and fellow Education First traveler, can’t say enough about how the trip prepared her daughter Alyssa, a senior, for the challenging International Baccalaureate Program at Granite Bay High School. “The trip helped make history more concrete and real for Alyssa when she took Advanced Placement European history,” Ziegenhorn said. “But, more importantly, I think it broadened her horizons in general, to see other cultures and countries.” The trip is generating much excitement at Spring View, but the reality can be a challenge. The approximately $3,000 price tag, a bargain for a trip including airfare, hotels, tours and most meals, is a struggle for kids who are trying to earn some of the funds themselves. Groth and her students will hold a yard sale and craft fair at Spring View from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 13, and encourage community members to rent space to sell their wares for a small fee. The trip, while geared toward students, is open to parents or anyone interested in world history. For information or to enroll in the tour, contact Rosemarie Groth at rgroth@rocklin.k12.ca.us or visit eftours.com, and input tour number 401769. Know and go Bell’ Italia Tour What: Nine-day tour of Venice, Florence, Assisi and Rome in mid June Cost: $3,059 for students; $3,394 for adults Tour Leader —Spring View Middle School teacher, Rosemarie Groth