Travel abroad program hopes to attract more Carson students | NevadaAppeal.com

Travel abroad program hopes to attract more Carson students

Claire Cudahy
ccudahy@swiftcom.com

Students from Reno, Sparks and Carson City travelled for 18 days through Europe this summer.

A Washoe County travel abroad program for high school students wants more young adults from Carson City to join its European adventures.

Scott Grange, a world history teacher at Sparks High School, started Washoe Academy Abroad three years ago with the goal of exposing students to the culture and history of Europe he experienced growing up.

Grange's parents Kurt and Nancy started a similar program in the 1970s that ran for 16 years; and for seven summers, Grange tagged along on those trips.

"My dad taught at Carson High School for 30 years," said Grange. "He wanted educated travelers from the United States and not that ugly American tourist. So he held classes about culture and history so that when students got there they were educated specifically on the things they were going to see that year."

But when the Gulf War hit, the Granges were forced to suspend the program, and it never got going again.

"It really instilled in me a love for culture, a love for history," said Grange. "I wanted to bring the program back, I just had to wait for the right time."

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Three years ago, Grange finally got the program off the ground and took 23 students to six countries. But before they left on the 18-day trip, the students spent 40 hours in the classroom learning about the history of each country, monument and site they would be visiting.

"When we visited Salzburg last year, we went to a classical concert in a baroque marble hall that Mozart actually performed in, so in the classroom we went over Mozart and western musical history and the types of classical music and how it evolved from early medieval music with harpsichords to full-on orchestras and printing music and some of the masters they might hear in that concert," explained Grange.

"With that understanding, they are in a concert for an hour and a half to two hours actually appreciating the music."

This summer, Washoe Academy Abroad took its first student from Carson City, Bella Bruketta. She first learned about the program from a friend at Wooster High School.

In July, Bruketta traveled to the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Italy and France. It was her first time in Europe.

"It was absolutely incredible," said Bruketta, now a freshman at the University of Nevada, Reno. "The culture was very different, the food was different, even their manners were different. It gave me more of an appreciation for what else is out there. It made me want to explore more and definitely study abroad in college."

Grange hopes his program will expand beyond students in Reno and Sparks.

"If we can grab some more kids from Carson, if they are willing to come down for the classes here, that it should be a Northern Nevada experience not just a Washoe County one," said Grange.

"I've had several students change their college ideas and a couple of them have changed their major and are going into world studies or politics because of this trip," continued Grange. "If we could include more kids in this experience, I'd be very grateful for that."

To learn more about Washoe Academy Abroad, visit http://www.washoeacademyabroad.weebly.com.