West Point students to embark on a trip of a lifetime

Students and parents met with Bruce Mize, Advanced Placement (AP) World History teacher at West Point High School, at No Way Jose, Monday, to discuss the upcoming trip to Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia.Tammala Atkins is with her son Zachary Atkins, Julia Smith, Jordan Mize, Amy Lenoir and Jessica Lenoir are a few of the young people going on the trip.
Staff Writer

Bruce Mize, Advanced Placement (AP) World History teacher at West Point High School is taking some of his students on a European Tour through Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia. The students will tour Berlin, Warsaw, Krakow and Prague.

Most of the tours will be Holocaust related.

The group will leave Sunday morning on the 10-day tour through three countries and four cities.

"I've been to these places before and I wanted to give these kids a chance to see historic sites they may never get another chance to visit," Mize said. "We'll be doing walking tours of the cities. The weather is very different from what we're accustomed to, there is no humidity. It's in the 70s during the day and 50s at night. Even though it’s summer they need to bring a jacket."

He said they would be doing night walking tours to see the cities at night, as they take on a different persona after dark.

"We'll leave early Sunday morning for Memphis to catch a connecting flight to Newark, New Jersey" Mize said. "And from there to Berlin. We have guides who are fluent in English and German to take us to our destinations." Berlin is a beautiful city. While there, the group will look for Stolpersteine

“Stumbling Blocks/Stones” Concrete cube bearing a brass plate inscribed with the name and life dates of victims of Nazi extermination or persecution."

They will look for Ampelmannchen “Little Traffic Light Men”, Rare Ampelfrau “Little Traffic Light Girl” Both are only found in the eastern part of Berlin

"We will look at the graffiti," Mize said. "You will notice graffiti everywhere in Berlin. It is not vandalism but considered political expressionism and art. Here it is usually a street you do not want to be. Where as, in Berlin, that is where you do want to be."

Mize said he will give everyone a journal and he encourages them to write down their thoughts and feelings while touring the different cities.

"They will treasure these memories," Mize said. "The journals will be something they can read that will take them back to that place. I hope they will take advantage of everything, from the history and culture to the food. I want them to try a lot of the food that they can't get at home. We won't be going to any American fast food joints."

The group will visit the Topographie Des Terrors in Berlin, Between 1933 and 1945, the central institutions of Nazi persecution and terror – the Secret State Police Office with its own “house prison,” the leadership of the SS and, during the Second World War, the Reich Security Main Office, were located on the present-day grounds of the “Topography of Terror” that are next to the Martin Gropius Building and close to Potsdamer Platz.

Mize said they will take a seven hour train ride to Warsaw, Poland to see the Warsaw Ghetto where the Jews were gathered before sending them by cattle car to Auschwitz.

The students will visit Auschwitz near the town of Oświęcim, Poland.

"The kids have got to be respectful at Auschwitz," Mize said. "This is a mass gravesite where millions of people were murdered for no reason. It is a quiet place. When I was there before, I never heard a bird sing. It's a place of sadness. But it's a place everyone should see so they understand how huge it is, how awful it was and why this type of thing should never happen again."

Many of Mize's students have seen the film, "Schindler's List." They will visit the factory in Krakow, Poland, owned by Oskar Schindler.

"When I watched the movie I cried all through it,"Amy Lenoir, a former student who is going on the trip said. "I want to see Auschwitz. But I also want to see the German, Polish and Czechoslovakian cultures today."

Mize said they will then take a bus to Prague, Czechoslovakia.

"I saw a video of Prague that Mr. Mize showed us," Jessica Lenoir, a student in the AP World History Class said. "It was so beautiful. I'm really looking forward to seeing it and all the other places we will go."

For most of these students, it will truly be a trip of a lifetime to visit Europe.

"When everyone else is talking about the beach or Disney World," Mize said. "These kids can say they were in Europe this summer. These students saved their money for almost a year to pay for this trip with the help of family, friends, and local businesses. Those businesses being Blue Deer Candles and Gary's Pawn and Gun. We want to thank everyone who made this possible."

To find out more about Mize and his student's trip, like WPWanderers on Facebook.