APUSH students attend San Francisco walking tour

January 7, 2011 — by Megan Benzing

For the past eight years, AP U.S. History teacher Matt Torrens has been taking his students to San Francisco for a walking tour of the city for extra credit. On Dec. 20, 43 students from all of his AP U.S. classes showed up at the Sunnyvale Train Station to attend his tour.

When researching the Gold Rush for his class, Torrens discovered connections to San Francisco. He then went up there for a walking tour hosted by the San Francisco Library and realized the street names, the museums, the plaques, all relate to the Gold Rush or the Mexican American War.

“Taking a walking tour is a little like a treasure hunt,” said Torrens. “You walk around a strange city and have to hunt for historical plaques, buildings or museums and then interpret the history.”

The trip was worth 10 extra credit points, which enticed many students to attend.

“I loved it,” said junior Nicole Shadman. “I didn’t even go for the extra credit. I just went to have fun with everyone, and I did!”

Junior Alison Knysh found the tour educational but also entertaining.

“I was able to see San Francisco from a new angle and learn some of the history behind the city,” said Knysh. “I would definitely encourage other students to go on the trip if they have the opportunity.”

Torrens has always been known to not only be enthusiastic, but also a veritable wealth of knowledge. Junior Kushal Raj said that Torrens caught a few people’s attention during the tour.

“He knew so much about San Francisco’s history that a couple of random people stopped by our group to listen,” said Raj.

When they got to San Francisco, the group took a bus to Chinatown.

“He made us all sing holiday carols on the bus and it was amazing,” said Shadman.

According to Torrens, the trip was a resounding success. The kids were well behaved, although a few students didn’t make it back to the train in time.

“Every year we have some little drama,” said Torrens, “such as missing a train, running into a film crew from Amazing Race, or seeing some celebrity, but it always works out.”

The trip had students walking from Chinatown to the top of the Fairmont hotel. It lasted from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“I really appreciated all the effort Mr. Torrens put in to make it an enjoyable experience for us all,” said Knysh.

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