Baldwin’s Legacy of Ninth Grade Bonding Trips

Italy, Arizona, and Now New York City


Photography by Lyla Mason '26

Ninth graders take a stroll in Hudson River Park.

The tradition of a ninth grade trip is a highly anticipated event for Baldwin students looking forward to Upper School. In fall of 2022, Baldwin ninth graders became the first to experience this trip in New York City. 

In an interview with Mrs. Reed about the origins of the trip, she said, “We [originally] came up with an idea that it would be really nice for the ninth graders to bond as a class with something special at the beginning of their Upper School experience.” 

In 2011, Italy was chosen as the location for students to connect with what they were learning in the classroom. However, as Baldwin continued to run the trip, challenges arose; international visas, illnesses, and increasing class sizes all led the Class of 2019 to be the last to experience it. 

With some of these hurdles, the administration started looking for alternatives. Mrs. Reed explained, “Looking around, it seemed like Arizona was a great spot because it connected to some of the physics learning and some of the readings they were doing.” 

The Arizona trip gave students the opportunity to see the Grand Canyon, take Pink Jeep Tours in Sedona, explore multiple museums, and visit ancestral Puebloan sites at Wupatki National Monument. A key part of the trip was teambuilding. 

Aida Haile ‘23 explained that as a result of the trip, her grade “definitely adapted and grew together.”

Lauren Brown ‘23 said, “After the ninth grade Arizona trip, we didn’t form “this friend group” or “that friend group,” but we became the tight-knit Class of 2023 that we are today.”

Just months after the Class of 2023 went to Arizona, the pandemic struck and the administration decided to forgo the ninth grade trip for the Class of 2024.

As the pandemic waned, Baldwin looked for a new destination for 9th graders to explore. Last year, the Class of 2025 went to Camp Tockwogh, a YMCA camp in Maryland. However, Ms. Greco said, “It did not entirely fulfill a lot of the needed or intended goals for the ninth grade trip that we used to get from Arizona.” 

Shifa Sayeed ‘25 said, “The trip took place in May, meaning that people took the opportunity to close off our freshman year with the people we were closest with.” 

This year, Baldwin yet again reimagined the ninth grade trip. Ms. Greco, the ninth grade dean, said, “We wanted a diversity of experiences. We still wanted things to be bonding and fun, but also somehow connected to bits of the curriculum.”

Ultimately, Baldwin landed on New York City. There, students visited the United Nations Headquarters the consulates of Mexico and South Korea, and the 9/11 Memorial, participated in walkings tour of Harlem and the Brooklyn Bridge, and explored a variety of museums. Choosing to go to Brooklyn made sense considering current ninth graders read Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson in their English class. 

Ninth graders also enjoyed plays like & Juliet, a fun jukebox musical, and Trojan Women in the traditional Pansori folk opera style. This means the production was sung completely in Korean, performed with symbolic props, and accompanied bya variety of drums. 

The trip to New York City retained aspects of previous trips. For example, the ninth graders journaled about what they saw in their day, the way those who went to Arizona did. 

However, there were also substantial changes to the trip.

In Arizona, the ninth grade did most of the same things at the same time, but in New York, students had the freedom to choose between which consulate they wanted to visit or what they wanted to buy for dinner, which allowed students to create their own diverse experiences. 

Ms. Greco said, “When you’re on campus, you’re in a uniform, you fall into a routine of who you think you need to be instead of who you are when you’re on neutral ground in a new place doing new things.”

Regardless of where the ninth grade trip is, be it Italy, Arizona, or New York, it continues as an experience for students to understand more about the world around them and bond with the people they’ll stay with for the rest of their high school experience.