Murray students visit Paris on Spring Break

Melissa Korpalski, a French Teacher at Murray (left to right); Ny’ila Gatewood; London-Dior Ware; Kendall Bly; Tierney Duffy, a Spanish Teacher at Murray; and Robert Francis. (Photo contributed by Melissa Korpalski)

Staff writer

Melissa Korpalski, a French teacher at Philips Murray Elementary School, took a group of students to France and traveled to Paris and Nice during Spring Break in April.

Robert Francis, a 7th-grade student, Kendall Bly, London-Dior Ware and Ny’ila Gatewood, 6th-grade students, had the opportunity to travel abroad to see sites like the Eiffel Tower, The Lourve Museum, the Mona Lisa.

When asked about their favorite part of the trip, all of the students said they really enjoyed the Eiffel Tower. “When you go to a well-known city, there is always going to be this one well-known landmark. In Paris, it was the Eiffel Tower. When I first saw it was very overwhelming. It was really big, I didn’t imagine it to be like that,” said Ware.

The students wished they had the chance to practice their French while traveling, Gatewood said, “Most of the French spoke English, which I was kind of sad about because I wanted to speak a lot of French. They knew that I didn’t understand it, so they just talked in English.”

All of the students were excited about the chance to try new food. Ware, Gatewood and Bly all tried mussels. However, Gatewood was not excited to try escargot as were Ware and Bly, who loved it. “The mussels were okay. But I love escargot. I was actually craving some the other day. The seasoning was delicious, it was chewy, which I kind of liked because I like weird textures in my food and it was good,” said Bly

Francis decided to try pizza while in Paris to compare it to American pizza. “It was like the best pizza that I ever had. Their pizza was different from ours. When the cheese touched my mouth, but it was so good and then it has olives on it. It was the best pizza hands down in my life.”

During their travels, the students had the opportunity to the Notre Dame Cathedral the day before it accidentally caught on fire on April 15. The spire, most of the cathedral’s roof and upper walls were severely damaged, and many religious artifacts were either damaged or lost to the fire.

Upon hearing the news, the students were shocked. Ware was upset that she did not get a chance to see every part of the cathedral, “I was kind of upset, not that it burned down per se but because we didn’t go everywhere. We didn’t have enough time to go upstairs or see some of the things that France or Paris is mostly known for in the cathedral.”
Bly was happy that she did not pass the opportunity to go see it, “Before we went, and even while we were there, it was a lot of students saying, ‘Oh, you could go anytime it’s overpriced.’ We were defending ourselves saying ‘it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.’ Once the Cathedral burned down it was like, ‘It is really a once in a lifetime opportunity.’ Although they are going to rebuild it, it’s never going to be the same.”

Gatewood, who thought the cathedral was boring when she first saw it, was grateful for the opportunity as well “I thought the Notre Dame was kind of boring. But then once it burned down, I realized that most people don’t get the opportunity to go to Paris at 11 years old and go see Notre Dame.”

Francis said: “I feel blessed [to have seen the Notre Dame]. We were the last group of people to be able to see how it was made many centuries back. No one ever will ever be able to see it.”

After the fire at Notre Dame, the students said that they wanted to go back and experience all that France had to offer in cities like Paris and Nice. They even know what they would do differently or keep the same on their next tour of the county.

Ware said that she would travel with other people again, “When going to France, don’t go alone. You won’t see everything in one person’s eye. When you go somewhere new or special, I feel like you have to different people’s perspective. Ny’ila, Kendall and Rob added in suggestions and pointed to something I didn’t notice.”

Bly said that she would not go see the Mona Lisa again because it was overrated, “At the Louvre, we saw the Mona Lisa. We went up a lot of stairs and got pushed by a lot of people. I almost got pick-pocketed, somebody unzipped my purse. It was hot, sweaty and it stunk. I was like ‘We are going to see the Mona Lisa, it’s all going to be worth it.’ So, we’re pushing through the front and I see it, it’s incredibly small. I went off, ‘I went through all this work to see a small painting?’”

The students said that the Winged Victory of Samothrace, Napoleon III apartments in the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe were all underrated and would visit those sites and artifacts again.