Kenosha Unified high school students are tearing down classroom walls and traveling abroad this summer as the KUSD travel club returns for the first time since 2019.
Ten students went to Panama from June 20-28 and 16 students left for England on Saturday and returned on July 28, along with parents and a chaperone teacher. Trips to Tremper High School began in 2007 with the launch of the travel club, which eventually opened to all KUSD students, said Tremper social science teacher Laura Zajicek-Bagenski.
“I moved to Kenosha in 2004, and with the help of so many interested students who wanted to travel, we started the travel club in 2007,” Zajicek-Bagenski said.
Since the club started, students have gone on one to three trips per year, and the club has traveled to 23 countries. Zajicek-Bagenski, who said he loves to travel, started the club to give that opportunity to students and families in Kenosha.
“When I started at Tremper, I wanted to do something that I could give back to the community. I wanted to do more than I do in my classroom,” Zajicek-Bagenski said.
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Students at the club will be able to decide on trip destinations and what they want to learn, Zajicek-Bagenski said. There are several countries the club has visited several times, including England and Italy. The club’s trip to England this month is the fourth time they have traveled there, he said.
The trip to England is a “legends” tour, and the itinerary includes more of the countryside and historical places for figures such as the Queen, Jack the Ripper, Shakespeare and the Beatles.
“All the major legends that affected the island of England,” Zajicek-Bagenski said.
Zajicek-Bagenski said he was particularly excited about traveling to Bristol, known for its artwork, as well as the English countryside.
“Usually, when we travel to England, we see London, and the only area around the city, where it’s going to be deeper, and much bigger outside of the city experience,” he said.
Zajicek-Bagenski welcomes all KUSD students in grades 9-12 to join the travel club.
“(The club) started as Tremper, but over the years we have had several families from other schools who wanted to join us. And as long as they are students of Kenosha Unified, that’s fine, ”Zajicek-Bagenski said.
Many students who attend the trips want to continue, and each student has a different takeaway from attending the trips, Zajicek-Bagenski said. The travel club gives students the opportunity to grow and learn from global perspectives, as well.
“Overall, falling down the school walls, and exposing kids to the world and actually standing in places they read and learn about, it enhances their motivation for learning,” Zajicek said- Bagenski. “They come back with ideas and the kind of love of learning that they didn’t have before. School becomes more interesting, because these places are real. I’ve seen kids become more responsible, I’ve seen they became better prepared for school and college.
The travel club would not be possible with support from the Kenosha community, and Zajicek-Bagenski said he wants to return that support by providing global travel opportunities for Kenosha students and families.
“Our goal is to reap the benefits of a school community, and to make sure we share that with our community here at Kenosha,” Zajicek-Bagenski said. “We want to make sure we as a school stay dynamic and we stay up to date, and we make sure our kids are competitive when they leave us. And this is another piece of the puzzle that we can give to our community.”