NYC Trip for Three XHS Seniors

XHS Students Return from NYC Trip
Posted on 06/14/2022
This June, students whose winning project earned them a trip to New York City were able to head to the bright lights of Broadway to experience the city that never sleeps — just in time for their graduation. 

Graduating seniors Kelsey Kellner, TreyShawn Hoskins, and Brylee Dixon worked together as juniors to complete their project about the Olive Branch Petition in the fall of 2020. Their project was submitted by Jennifer Burgess, English teacher at Xenia High School, to the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History’s Hamilton Education Program national songwriting competition. The students placed in the top five submissions nationally, but the trip was postponed at the time due to travel restrictions.

As a team, the students were invited to New York City by the Gilder Lehrman Institute. For their winning project, the students were offered travel, accommodation, meals, Hamilton Broadway tickets, and a private tour of primary-source documents at the New York Historical Society. 

Accompanied by teachers Jennifer Burgess and PR Frank, the students spent a whirlwind four-days exploring the city that never sleeps. During their stay, the students experienced New York City pizza, a ride on the Staten Island Ferry, subway rides, Times Square, Central Park, The Today Show, the Statue of Liberty, two Broadway musicals, a poetry slam, a family-style Italian restaurant, the 9/11 Memorial, a nighttime bike ride along the Hudson, shopping, and plenty of coffee shops.

Mr. Frank observed: "A highlight for me was showing these kids so much about the city and watching them fall in love with 'the city that never sleeps.'"

The highlight of the trip, however, was the chance to explore historical documents at the Gilder Lehrman Institute:

"So often, significant historical events, like the Revolutionary War or even 9/11, have become just pages in a history book for students,” said Mrs. Burgess. “This trip humanized the people behind those events and allowed students to connect with history on a more personal level. We saw the actual letters Hamilton wrote. We saw Lincoln’s draft of the House Divided speech in his own handwriting. I hope that through this experience, my students realized that their hard work pays off and that they, too, are capable of doing something great that could someday appear in history books generations from now."

The students enjoyed the entire trip, but like students throughout time, their take might have been a little different than that of the adults — yet still profound and speaks to the entire trip as a learning experience: 

“Somehow a rap I wrote my Junior year led to a trip to New York City. The city itself feels like its own world, it truly is the city that never sleeps. The people there are what fascinated me the most. Everyone there had such big dreams and so much creativity, it was so inspirational. After being in the Big Apple for only several days, I fell in love with the city. I love the energy and the atmosphere of it all. New York, I will see you again soon and hopefully call you home.” 
- Kelsey Kellner

"It was an amazing graduation gift; however, I only got to see three subway rats, and I'm slightly disappointed." 
- Brylee Dixon

"Moral of the story: be friends with someone that does their assignments." 
- TreyShawn Hoskins

About the Winning Project
The team’s video about the Olive Branch Petition, which was submitted to the Hamilton Education Program Fall 2020 competition through the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, was completed as part of their English 11 unit entitled "Writing Freedom," where students explored writing integral to the founding of our nation. The top three scoring projects from XHS were submitted by Jennifer Burgess, English teacher at Xenia High School, to the national competition.