From Commercial Appeal:

It was a Roman holiday for 10 St. Mary's students who traveled to Italy with Dr. Pat McFadden, Middle and Upper School Latin teacher, and Marilou Mulrooney, Middle School English department chair.

"It's the first school trip we've taken like this since 9/11," said McFadden, who prepared an itinerary of sites that tied in with historic aspects of the school's Latin curriculum. "We wanted to do a lot in one place, so we stayed in Sorrento for five days and visited sites in the Bay of Naples area.

"The ancient sites that the girls have been studying came to life when we visited Pompeii and Herculaneum. The girls got to see a house which they had studied that dated back to 79 AD. ... The entire area is a hotbed of Greek mythology."

"I've traveled to Italy twice before, but the trip Pat put together for us took us to fantastic destinations not typically on the tourist trail," said Mulrooney. "I'd never been on the picturesque Amalfi coast, which twists and turns along steep cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. We also traveled to one of Italy's most majestic and ancient sights, the Paestum settlement which dates back to 5th-Century BC. Three temples from this ancient era are still standing there today."

"The English curriculum in the ninth grade focuses on Greek and Roman mythology. Also, we use the Latin and Greek etymology vocabulary series of Classical Roots in grades seven through 10," said Mulrooney.

Eighth-grade Latin students Zuzia Stepniatowska and Rachel Bluestein said their favorite thing to do was eat gelato every day while their most loved destinations were the Isle of Capri and Rome.

"Capri is absolutely gorgeous. The water is the most beautiful shade of blue and from the highest point, we even saw snow," said Bluestein. "I also loved shopping in the unique designer shops in Capri."

For Stepniakowska, who was born in Poland and is Roman Catholic, the visit to Rome was most memorable.

"I've always wanted to see Italy and the historic locations that mark my faith, like St. Peter's Basilica," she said. "We were given a careful explanation of art history by a woman who's going to become an official Vatican guide. Having just been there made the Pope's recent death even more real to me."

McFadden, in his fifth year of teaching Latin at St. Mary's, along with colleague Jenny Fields is expanding the program next year to include the seventh grade.

"By adding this year, " he said, "it will allow more time to delve into influential authors not currently in our curriculum."

In addition to McFadden and Mulrooney, parent Dr. Ben Anderson accompanied the group. Students included Elizabeth Anderson, Rebecca Anderson, Bleustein, Jasmine Bolton, Sarah Donaldson, McKenzie Fields, Caroline Harris, Brooke Peeples, Stepniakowska and Lauren Wolfe.