On Friday, September 19, Graceland students may have noticed a few people missing from their classes. Chances are, those students were on their way to Chicago, Illinois with others in the Graceland University honors program for their annual trip to the “Windy City”. Accompanied by Bob Mesle, honors program director, and Tom Morain, social sciences professor, about thirty-seven honors students set out on a six-hour bus ride East.
Upon arriving in Chicago, the group checked in at the Lutheran School of Theology, their lodgings for the weekend. After preparing for a night out, students headed to Navy Pier, a popular area in Chicago filled with attractions and restaurants. Joshua Hill, freshman, said, “My favorite part of the Chicago trip was seeing the sunset over the skyline from Navy Pier.” While enjoying the sunset, the group split up to dine wherever they wanted, then met at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, also on Navy Pier. The honors students then enjoyed Shakespeare’s King Lear. Emily Sutt, freshman, said, “King Lear was fabulous! I think it was a great experience, not only for those with experience in fine arts and performing. The actors clearly put a lot of work into the production.”
Early Saturday morning, the bus was off again, this time to the Shedd Aquarium. Students enjoyed all-inclusive passes that allowed them to explore every corner of the aquarium, including main floor attractions, the Beluga whale exhibit, the dolphin tank, a 4-D show, and a sea life show which included dolphin and Beluga whale tricks. Melissa Sherer, freshman, said the aquarium was “awesome! I loved getting to pet the stingrays! I would love to go back sometime and spend even more time there.” Lashaunda Yates, sophomore, said, “I loved that we got to spend so much time in the Shedd Aquarium, and we got to explore every exhibit.”
After the aquarium, the group broke up to visit Millennium Park, a popular area in downtown Chicago. Students separated into small groups and ate lunch, shopped, and checked out popular monuments like “The Bean.” Then, they returned to the Lutheran School to change for the evening’s event.
Saturday night featured a visit to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. It was opening night of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. The students found themselves on the red carpet, an exciting and surprising experience. After the symphony, students walked to Exchequer’s restaurant to enjoy dinner before retiring to the Lutheran School for sleep. Brickell Dotson’s favorite part? “The food!”
On the bus ride home on Sunday, the group visited the world’s largest truck stop in Walcott, Iowa for lunch. Students spent their time on the bus sleeping and discussing the amazing weekend spent in Chicago. Lashaunda Yates, sophomore, said, “my favorite part of the Chicago trip would be spending hours with other kids in the program. The trip gave me the opportunity to connect with people I would otherwise never really talk to.”
All of the honors students would like to say a big “thank you” to Bob Mesle, Tom Morain, and the Graceland Honors Program for an amazing weekend of bonding with other honors members, visiting Chicago, and having new experiences like the symphony or the Shakespeare play.