Written by Leon Tsai ’17 and Michael Johnson ’16
Today, we ventured out to the Millennium Seed Bank in Wakehurst. The weather was rather damp today; it began to rain during our bus ride. Because of this, we had to miss quite a few outdoor exhibits. The Millennium Seed Bank is one of the largest seed banks around the world. It stores, protects, and conserves seeds for reintroduction into nature. Its impact is immense, in that if one particular species of plants becomes increasingly vulnerable, scientists will have the security knowing that seeds for that plant still exist. We ate lunch in the Seed Bank as well. Following this, we returned to Richmond, and rode the Underground to South Kensington. Here, our group separated, with the girls going out for tea, and the boys exploring the Natural History Museum. For dinner, our team ate in an Italian restaurant with Mr. Vasquez, who was in London for a Sacred Heart conference.
It was after dinner where things became especially interesting for a few of us. Calvin and I (Leon) accompanied Mr. Vasquez to the University of Roehampton, where we also met Mr. O’Connor. Here in Roehampton, the four of us visited the burial site of Janet Erskine Stuart. This was an extremely touching moment for all of us; a wave of emotions flooded over us as we struggled to compose our thoughts. According to Mr. Vasquez, we were the first Stuart Hall students to ever visit such an important site in our school’s history. Calvin and I felt honored and humbled to be in the presence of our school’s patron, Mother Stuart.
It is so surreal to imagine that this was our final full day in London. Despite the day’s magical moments, each one of us cannot help but feel a tinge of sadness in the air.
Written by Calvin, Justin and Mitchell
Today has been are 4th day here at London, and our 2nd day doing field work with the Royal Botanical Gardens of Kew. We traveled to calcareous grasslands, or grasslands with chalky soils containing calcium. There we met up with Dr. Bruce Pavlik, Dr. Lisbeth Louderback, and Dr. Sarah Barlow. Dr. Barlow led today’s excursion on studying different species of flowers, animals, and grasses in Hertfordshire 40 miles north of London, and about the Anemone Pulstilla, also known as the Pasque Flowers. We learned that Pasque flowers are an endangered species of wildflowers that can only be found on chalky soil. After talking a bit to Laurence, the head park ranger of Ashridge Park, we hade ourselves a picnic on the grass near a big oak tree. Then, we continued our excursion to survey vegetation with Dr. Barlow. At 3:00 PM, we finished and took the minivan with Tom, our wonderful driver who drove us around all day and waited for us while we were at the parks, back to the hotel where we rested and recharged our batteries.
Written by Isabella Pontecorvo ’17
Today was our first day in Kew Gardens, where we received a crash course in botany and learned how to identify the different parts of a plant in a more scientifically correct form. We had a brief break for simple English tea, which included chocolate biscuits. After our excellent tea and biscuits, we had a series of lectures that enunciated the difference between fungi and plants, taught us how much we depend on plants, and how we use plants in our daily lives. Later, after learning what we could do to help endangered plant species, it was time for lunch. Lunch was amazing, and we were astonished by the variety of goodies sent our way. Once we finished our meals, we headed out to the Kew Herbarium. A herbarium is a place where herbs and different species of plants are cataloged. It was utterly fascinating because some of the plants dated back over a hundred years. Our inside work was complete, so we headed out to the greenhouses in Kew. The gardens took our breath away, and were overflowing with diversity. One of the reasons Kew Gardens is so incredible is the way it is presented to the onlooker: Kew’s Victorian and modern buildings show us how the gardens have grown over time and how important it was, and still is today. Kew was extremely interesting and fun, but the gardens wore us out, so our caring adults took us out for burgers; which were fabulous, of course. Another exciting day in London complete, will we ever tire of this fantastic place?
Written by Leon Tsai ’17 and Michael Johnson ’16
After a long night’s rest in the Kingsley Hotel, we were ready to take on the streets of London. Morale was high as we devoured our magnificent breakfast, and any sense of weariness from the previous day immediately disappeared. Jet lag was no match for us now. Our adventures through London took us to many different sites: the Museum of London, the Millennium Bridge, the Tate Modern museum, Buckingham Palace, and Covent Garden. Lunch and dinner were fantastic as well; we had fish-and-chips and Indian food respectively. This was a great opportunity for the group to get a full-on London immersion experience. So far, we have been very satisfied. Everyone in London has been so kind to us, transportation is easy via the Underground, there are so many things to do, and overall, the city is just so beautiful. Every place has its own intricacies and nuances that make it uniquely it’s own. With two sightseeing days completed, we highly look forward to the Kew Gardens visit to come.
Convent and Stuart Hall have formed a partnership with Dr. Peggy Fiedler, Director of UC’s Natural Reserve System, and Dr. Bruce Pavlik from the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens in England for a 2-year elective class that will look at Mediterranean ecosystems (of which the Bay Area is one) of the world. The course has kicked off this week with a trip to Kew Gardens in England.
Written by Mitchell, Justin and Cal – all in class of 2017
As we prepare to embark on this once in a lifetime trip, the 9 members of
our party: Mr. Farrell, Ms. Simpson, Izzy, Bella, Justin, Mitchell, Calvin,
Leon, and Michael, are all extremely excited and have gone to great
lengths to prepare for this wonderful, educational opportunity. There is a
sense of anticipation and anxiousness in the atmosphere. We are trying
to prepare ourselves mentally and physically for the week in London. We
have several days touring Central London topped oﬀ with exploring the
enormous Gardens of Kew. Right now, as we are waiting in the air for 9
hours, we ﬁnd ourselves completely in the dark on what to expect. For all
of us, excluding Ms. Simpson, this is our ﬁrst time going to London. We
are unsure of what to expect from everything from the workload to the
food to the jet lag. Despite the unknown we are facing, we deﬁnitely feel
a calm aura that is surrounding us…something that is making us ready for
our future at London.
Many Convent & Stuart Hall high school students have taken advantage of opportunities to travel abroad on service and cultural immersion trips. This year, President Ann Marie Krejcarek wanted to create another such opportunity, only this time, take the entire class of sophomores from Convent & Stuart Hall. While in Costa Rica the week of January 20, students helped paint a local school and hand out supplies to children, explored the jungle through zipline and rafting, volunteered at a turtle hatchery and learned to salsa (the dance, not the dip).
Over the February break, David Alvarez ’16 traveled to The United Kingdom to visit our sister Sacred Heart School, Beechwood.
I had such an amazing time in the little town of Royal Tunbridge Wells with Henry Wright and his family. The town got the title of royal when Queen Victoria visited the town and loved it so much she gave it the title of royal. Beechwood School was very welcoming and was very similar to Stuart Hall High School. Royal Tunbridge Wells is also the home of Winnie the Pooh. I got the chance to visit the sights of where Winnie the Pooh actually took place. I also went to the place where fish and chips were invented. When I visited London twice I saw most of the famous attractions of London. I went to see the crown jewels and Buckingham Palace. One of my favorite things to see was the changing of the guards. The best pictures I took was when I went on the London Eye and saw the entire city of London.
– David Alvarez ’16