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Year 11 visit to Krakow – February 2024

2024 > February > 23 > Year 11 visit to Krakow – February 2024

At the end of the first half term of this academic year, in the early hours of the morning, forty-five Year 11 students and five members of staff set off on an unforgettable trip to Krakow, Poland.

Unbelievably, all of the students (and parents – thank you!) were punctual and the coach departed for the airport on time. We arrived at the airport ahead of time and had plenty of time to get breakfast, buy drinks and snacks and relax ahead of our flight.

We arrived in Krakow and made our way through passport control. This was not a smooth process but the students were amazingly patient! We boarded our coach and made our way to Hotel Alexander. Mr Baybutt gave the students an explanation of Oskar Schindler’s story en route as this was our first port of call on our trip.

By the time we arrived at the hotel, we were all flagging. Excited to be there but sleep-deprived! Luggage was dropped off and we immediately made our way to Schindler’s Factory Museum.

Whilst students had bought lunch at the airport, quite a few managed to persuade Mr Baybutt to allow them to pop into McDonalds on the way!

We arrived at Schindler’s Factory and enjoyed a guided tour. The students were exceptional. Whilst being very tired, they engaged with the exhibition and our guides and learned a lot.

We then enjoyed an evening meal before heading back to the hotel for an early night!

We started Day Two with a very hearty breakfast at the hotel followed by a visit to the Wieliczka Salt Mine. The students loved this tour and once again, we had excellent guides.

We returned to the city centre for lunch where the students had a chance to visit a local restaurant or cafe for lunch. They were encouraged to try the local cuisine and hope that they did not opt for McDonalds again!

The staff enjoyed a traditional Polish lunch of potato cakes with goulash and pierogi.

It was delicious!

We then made our way to the Galicia Jewish Museum where local volunteers explained the exhibition to the students. We then had the most amazing experience meeting a Holocaust Survivor who explained what had happened to her during her life and the impact that Nazi persecution had on her both at the time and throughout her life. The students listened to her so respectfully, many with tears in their eyes at the horror of what she had been through, and many took the time to thank her, in Polish, for speaking to us.

It was then onto the restaurant for our evening meal. In truth, this was somewhat disappointing and this has been fed back to the tour company, but we were treated to a Polish Folklore Dancing Evening, which the students got really involved with!

Another early night followed by a hearty breakfast and on Sunday, it was time to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau.

After a day of remembrance and reflection, where the students were impeccable, we went for our final evening meal on the main square in Krakow (this meal was very good!). The comments and observations from the students after seeing Auschwitz-Birkenau with their own eyes made the staff very proud.

“I cannot unsee what I have seen”

“How was this allowed to happen?”

“This has actually changed me as a person. Lucas (the tour guide) is right. He was so inspirational. It is now on our generation to make sure that this sort of thing never happens again.”

A huge thank you to the staff team who accompanied our students on this trip. (L-R) Mr Wright, Mrs Cooper, Mrs Cole, Mr Baybutt and Miss Webb.

After such an emotional experience, we felt it was only right to allow the students to have some fun and be children! So we spent the final morning at Park Wodny, Poland’s largest indoor waterpark. We had a great time on the rides and slides, or relaxing in the jacuzzi, before heading back to collect our luggage and make our way to the airport for the long journey home.

Mr Baybutt would like to thank all of the students, their parents/carers, and the amazing staff team who made this trip both possible and memorable.

But the final words are saved for one of the students who wrote the following as their reflection. If you don’t have a tear in your eye after reading this…

23 February 2024

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