Fort Dale students chosen to study in Oxford

Published 2:55 pm Tuesday, February 12, 2013

If the world is truly a stage, then Fort Dale Academy juniors John Coleman Poole and Sierra Teate are in leading roles.

As two exceptional students at FDA, they will quite literally be going places.

The duo has been selected to participate in the Honors Passport to Oxford program, offered by the University of Alabama Honors College.

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As the name suggests, those chosen are granted an opportunity to visit Oxford, England, to study the works of William Shakespeare in the esteemed playwright’s home country.

It will be both Teate and Poole’s first time leaving the country.

“I actually have never traveled overseas, but I have always wanted to,” Teate said.

“I made a goal that before I graduated high school I would travel to Europe, so I am extremely excited to fulfill this goal.”

Poole added that visiting Stratford-upon-Avon, a town in south Warwickshire, England, and the birthplace of Shakespeare, was the thing he was most excited about.

“I’ve always wanted to visit Oxford,” Poole said.

“It should be a fun experience.”

The trip will be helmed by Dr. Bard Tuggle, University of Alabama Honors College faculty member and 2001 Rhodes Scholar.

Three plays in particular will be explored throughout the trip in detailed readings and class discussions:  “The Tempest,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Love’s Labour’s Lost.”

The selection process for the program required

Honors-eligible seniors to have at least a 3.3 grade point average, a minimum score of 28 on the ACT or an SAT score of 1250, letters of recommendation, an essay submission and a personal interview.

While the program offers a unique opportunity to study abroad, the experience is not a tour, but an academic experience.

The Honors Passport to Oxford program is a course, complete with three hours of college credit upon completion.

While these requirements ask for exceptional students, the pair agreed that the steep conditions were a part of the program’s charm.

“I think the program’s academic challenge is why I am most honored to be a part of the trip,” Teate said.

“It is an accomplishment to be recognized as someone who could handle the work, and I am very excited to challenge myself.”

Poole was equally eager for the learning experience.

“I think I can handle it, but it’ll be worth it,” he said.

To complement the authentic Oxford experience, the group will spend its downtime in an old monastery that has been added as a part of the Oxford University system.

As such, both Teate and Poole have made experiencing British culture a priority during their three-week stay.

Whether that includes visiting the Royal Shakespeare Theatre or traveling from city to city by train, the importance of making the most of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has not been lost on either of them.

“I want to soak in as much of the culture as possible,” Teate said.

“While I am hoping to take away many things from this trip, my No. 1 priority is to balance cultivating my mind through working with the other students on the trip and truly experiencing the culture of England.”