A world history trip for five Mason City high schoolers turned into a real-life history lesson as the group was in Rome last week, just before the death of Pope John Paul the Second. Tim Kangas a history teacher at Newman Catholic High School, says they started in London and moved through Europe before arriving in Rome on Thursday. Kangas says one of the last stops they made Thursday night was the Vatican. Kangas says there were lots of police cars and media vans outside the Vatican. Their tour director said it was because the pope was very ill. Kangas says the group did get in to tour the Vatican early on Friday when the pope’s health was quickly deteriorating. The group felt a little rushed as it was made clear the pope could die at any time, but they did still get to tour the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel and the various halls. Kangas says the experience is something that neither he nor the students will ever forget.He says “We came over on a world history tour to kinda’ see different places and look at some things in world history and now we’re kinda’ thrust right in the middle of history as it’s happening, which adds a kind of unique perspective to a once-in-a-lifetime trip.” Student Jessica Taylor was on the trip and says they are still trying to put it into perspective. Taylor says “It didn’t really sink in until Mr. Kangus was like, ‘You guys are living history right now.’ You’re kinda’ there and you’re like ‘Wow, this is the Vatican’ and then you come back and you don’t even realize that you were there. It’s just amazing — kinda’ mind-blowing.” The group from Mason City left Rome on Saturday morning, the day the pope died at the age of 84.
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