New York 2016

I have lost track of how many times we have run this trip now, but it remains as exciting and essential as ever. We took 40 Year 12 and 13 students to New York for 3 action-packed days of cultural, educational and sightseeing activities. We were once again reminded of how fortunate we are to have so many talented, likeable and enthusiastic young people at the College and a leadership team who completely understand the value of such trips. 

We started off with a walk into Times Square to take in the 21st century neon splendour of it all, before splitting into two evening activities - half the party went to the Rockefeller Center to ice skate whilst the other half went into Brooklyn to see Muse put on an incredible multimedia rock extravaganza. Mr Oakley complained it was a bit too loud, but as a spectacle which converged music, multimedia stage design and visual art it was stunning. 

The next morning, we set off on a coach tour of film location sites in the most filmed city in the world, watching clips from films and TV shows as we passed their filming locations, ending up at the Friends apartment building via Central Park, the Flatiron Building and Washington Square Park. Again, the party split with the Year 12 students attending a film-making workshop whilst the A2 students took the opportunity to shoot footage for their music video coursework. The next day we went to the Museum of Moving Image in Queens for a session on film soundtracks, props and costumes and audio dubbing before moving on to the Museum of Modern Art. After the teachers enjoyed an encounter with a grizzly bear in Central Park, that evening, we went to the most famous sports arena in the world, Madison Square Garden to watch the 

New York Knicks in a one-sided NBA demolition of Phoenix. The surviving half of Run DMC played at half time which was an unexpected treat, for me at least. 

On the last day, we took the Staten Island Ferry to get iconic shots of the Statue of Liberty before preparing ourselves for the long journey home. At some point, we also visited Ground Zero and walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, although I can’t quite imagine where or how we fitted that in, ending up at the so-called best pizzeria in New York. If you asked any of the students if the trip was worth the money, I’m pretty sure that they would all agree it was; there is something about teenagers being able to independently make their own way around a city that they only know from films and TV that seems to open their eyes to the possibility that there is a great big world out there and that there are amazing opportunities for people prepared to work hard. 

For me, the trip ended on a high note when I was contacted by a former student, Phil Lawlor, now living in the cool East Village area of New York leading an amazing life providing music for adverts, films (‘Marley’, ‘The Great Gatsby’) and TV shows. He has agreed to come back to Arthur Mellows to talk about his fantastic career. 

Working in the media is not just a dream, and we undoubtedly have the talented and driven students who can achieve amazing things in the outside world. Many thanks once again to the staff who came along – Mssrs Oakley and Atkin, and Miss Gilbert – and especially the students who were incredibly well-behaved, enthusiastic and mostly willing to forego sleep in order to derive the maximum benefit from what remains an amazing trip.