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Shepard students, staff tour Europe

Like his counterparts Buckingham Palace this guard outside Prague Castle cannot display any emotion. Despite surrounding Shepard High School students

Like his counterparts at Buckingham Palace, this guard outside Prague Castle cannot display any emotion. Despite the surrounding Shepard High School students, he maintained his composure. | Supplied photo

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Updated: September 12, 2013 6:10AM



Shepard High School students and staff visited Italy, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic.

The trip featured Vatican City, the Alps, Neushwanstein Castle and many other sites featuring history, culture and natural beauty.

Shepard teacher Jeff Vazzana, who has been organizing tour groups for the last few years, said his favorite memory this trip was of a small town wedding.

“My favorite part of the whole trip would have to be in Austria,” Vazzana said. “We walked through a small town that was not touristy at all, and we were able to peek into a small wedding — that the whole town was at. Most of the guests were in full lederhosen.”

The Shepard group, large enough to fill their own tour bus, also visited Rome, Florence, Verona, Munich and Prague.

“Students learn so much by being in unfamiliar places. They begin to understand the culture of another country, and in doing so, they understand their own culture better,” Vazzana said.

Shepard junior Nick Martinez would agree.

“I gained a lot on this trip, other than fun and excitement. This trip taught me much more historical content than I could have ever learned reading a textbook in class,” Martinez said. “History isn’t my favorite subject; however, because I was standing on such historical grounds, I gained interest and every fact was given the chance to sink in.”

Martinez found particular connection to the sites in Italy and Germany. His great-grandfather was born in Italy, his great-grandmother in Munich, and they met one another at the Frankfurt airport where the Shepard group arrived and departed.

Vazzana said the Shepard group enjoyed every stop.

“Another great moment was walking into St. Peter’s Basilica with the kids. One of the students came up to me, breathless, and said, ‘This is the best thing I’ve ever seen or done in my entire life.’ That will really stick with me,” Vazzana said.

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