French Students Enjoy Art, Garden on Field Trip


Izzy Rivera

French students took a Nov. 18 field trip to the Hillstead Museum in Farmington, where they saw fine art and a sunken garden.

Izzy Rivera, Reporter

FARMINGTON — French students from Nonnewaug headed up to Farmington on Nov. 18 to visit the Hillstead Museum, which is Theodate Pope’s old home that she designed for her parents.

Pope was one of the first female architects and philanthropists. The students went to see her house she designed and to see the French paintings that Pope’s father had purchased for their home. 

French teacher Kate Peterson explained why she chose to take her students there.

“The voyage to the Hillstead Museum is the first field trip at NHS that we have had since the pandemic began almost two years ago,” Peterson said. “I love to be able to provide to my students an authentic French experience outside of the classroom.” 

The museum is full of beautiful art, which compelled Peterson to choose the location.

“I remembered this beautiful hidden gem of an estate in Farmington that happens to be the home to many incredible and authentic impressionist paintings, including those from Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir and Cassatt,” Peterson said.

Peterson said that it was a good way to show French culture to her French students who were ready for an adventure.  

“My favorite part of the field trip was watching the faces of the students as they realized they were standing next to a masterpiece — un chef d’oeuvre — painted by one of the most famous artists that ever lived,” Peterson said. “I’ve been fortunate to view other impressionist works in museums in Paris and NYC, but to see them hanging all around someone’s home where they were meant to be displayed is simply amazing.”

Peterson noted how important field trips actually are. 

It “helped my students become lifetime learners, pondering the world around them, not just studying books in a classroom,” Peterson said.

Sam Duncan, a French student who attended the field trip said she enjoyed it.

“I liked the French field trip because it was really fun to be able to see a historical house that has a lot of important artifacts,” Duncan said.

Walking through the house shows artifacts from 1800s and 1900s that are all exactly the same as when Theodate Pope lived there with her husband, John W. Riddle. There’s also a sunken garden, which Pope created for her mother.

Maggie Keane, another French student, enjoyed the chance to learn outside the school building.

“I liked the French field trip because it was time away from school,” Keane said. “The best part was being outside.”