What’s it like to walk through Central Park on a beautiful day in October? Thirty-seven Lufkin High School students in the Gifted and Talented program can tell you in full detail after returning home from their trip from New York City. The students also could tell you the artist, time period and title of many famous works of art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The trip is part of the curriculum for the English II, World History AP and Art History AP class so students can see firsthand the works of art in preparation for the AP test at the end of the year.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 prohibited the students from going in the spring of their sophomore year during 2020-21, but with the city opening up and vaccination cards in hand, the students were able to fly to New York eight months later and experience the city during the fall. This school year we will return with the sophomore students in February of 2022.

The students had a full learning agenda that was supplemented with other experiences ranging from walking the Brooklyn Bridge, going to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, seeing the lights in Times Square, taking a sunset cruise to see the Statue of Liberty and seeing a Broadway play.

Some students had never flown on an airplane, others had never been to a professional play. The students found street food that they loved and mastered the art of riding the subway. This year we arrived as a wedding was ending at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and visited the Top of the Rock Observation Deck at Rockefeller Center.

I cannot stress enough the importance of a visit to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, especially this year marking the 20-year anniversary of that event. The students were not even born when this tragedy happened, but the world they live in was forever changed by the events of that day, a lesson all of us should remember.

The trip to New York has been part of the GT curriculum for the past 15 consecutive years. Out of those 15 years, I haven’t missed a trip yet. I enjoy seeing the dynamic of the group, watching over a group of students, answering their questions, and seeing how they all support each other.

These students wouldn’t have this opportunity without the generous support of this community and specifically the Kurth Foundation and JM Chevrolet. This was an unforgettable experience for our students, an experience that will help shape the rest of their lives.

Seeing the need of broadening the horizons of our students is what makes our community special. The students loved New York, and some weren’t ready to come home, but we are so proud to live in a place where ‘‘Together We Rise’’ for our children.

Lynn Torres is the superintendent of Lufkin ISD.

Her email address is ltorres@lufkinisd.org.