It was a tranquil morning at Arlington National Cemetery. We had the privelage of presenting a wreath from our school during the Changing of the Guard Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Four students were selected by a committee of teachers based on essay applications to be a part of the ceremony. Several of their parents flew to DC to surprise them that morning at the cemetery. This was such a peaceful morning of touring gravesites of people like John Glenn, JFK, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Robert E. Lee, Thurgood Marshall, and the grandfather of one of our students. As we walked through the site I was so impressed by the respect that was shown by the students toward the fallen heroes of our country.
Iwo Jima and The White House
On the way to the White House we stopped at several monuments outside of the city. Iwo Jima’s statue is a famous one as it honors all fallen soldiers from the US Marines since its inception. This statue is modeled after a famous image from the Korean War. Because you cannot drive up to the White House, the buses dropped us off at Ford’s Theatre, where President Lincoln was shot and we walked from there to the White House. At this point, we had some time before our evening activities so we relaxed on the lawn and took in the sight of the White House for a while.
Our final night’s activity was aimed at getting students’ energy out before the journey home the following day. We split into small teams and bowled at a local alley. Initially, we had hoped to view Sheer Madness, but due to Covid restrictions were unable to go to the Kennedy Center.
Day Three was the longest of the trip. We packed so much into those hours and logged over 20,000 steps for the day. The bus dropped us off at the Jefferson Memorial in the morning and picked us up outside of the Smithsonians in time for dinner. We were on foot all day and thankful for beautiful weather.
Landmarks and Memorials
On our walking tour of downtown DC, we saw the Jefferson Memorial, FDR Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Korean War Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, World War II Memorial, Washington Monument…all before lunchtime and then US Capitol Building in the afternoon. It was a fast-paced foot tour, but we packed in as much as possible and gave the students a few minutes to explore at each site.
After lunch, we visited many museums that frame the National Mall. On our way to the final stop, we hit a patch of rain for about ten minutes, but otherwise the entire day was absolutely beautiful. During our museum tour we spent 45 minutes to an hour at each of these sites: Musuem of American History, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Museum of Natural History, and we ended the day with a tour of Embassy row en route to the Air and Space Museum.
Dave and Buster’s
Students and chaperones were able to blow off steam following the long day of touring by finishing the day at Dave and Buster’s. The group was served a buffet-style dinner and each student had a prepaid game card. My favorite part about this stop is that I bounced from group to group taking photos and making sure each student had a shot of them enjoying the arcade.
The second leg of our DC trip began bright and early. Each morning we congregated in the ballroom of our hotel to hear about the plans for the upcoming day and to hear announcements. With a group of over 120 students and staff members, there was also a birthday to celebrate each day and so we would sing to show gratitude for the birth of members in our group.
The morning started with a trip to the home of George and Martha Washington along the Potomac. Mount Vernon is a beautiful manor that has been kept relatively true to the way Washington would’ve experienced the home. Our morning tour included the symphony of nature with birdsong and water running below the estate.
Army and Marine Museums
The Army Museum is a relatively new stop on the DC Itenerary. We were fortunate enough to get the inside scoop on exhibits and artifacts from a local friend who works as a photographer for the museum. Scott now lives in Arlington, but previously lived in our town (and his stepson is married to my sister.) With this special tourguide we were able to learn to that the first ever humvee was placed on the floor of the museum. Additionally, all of the mannequins of soldiers were designed using body casts of real soliders. They were so lifelike that students questioned whether or not they were human.
Time Out for Facetime
The hardest part of the trip for me was leaving behind my family. Although I was busy all day every day I found small pockets of time to Facetime my girls and my husband back home.
The night wrapped up with the “Spirit of Mount Vernon” moonlit cruise along the Potomac. We were served a buffet of chicken, pasta, and vegetables and then a DJ brought music to the floor as we enjoyed ourselves as a group. The experience of witnessing the students dress up and have a great time was priceless. Somewhere in the ether there lurks a video of a chaperone dance that may haunt me for the rest of my life. But it was so much fun!
Some weeks it feels like I am crawling to the finish line. This is one of those weeks. Spring break starts tomorrow and I’m dragging. Which is why having the Five Minute Friday community is awesome! It’s a built-in date with positive writers and a cup of coffee each week. This week our prompt is: Explore.
On Tuesday morning I will be joining 120+ students from the high school where I teach on a tour of Washington DC. We board coach buses in Ohio bright and early and by dinner time we will be in the US capital city. I am most excited about chaperoning this trip along with some of my friends. As history teachers, I fully expect us to nerd out at places like the Smithsonian and African American History Museum.
The last time I was in DC was college. I planned a trip for a Government course I took and we met with someone from the Senate on that trip. In high school, a family friend was married in the city and so I took a brief trip then as well. And of course, I attended my own 8th grade trip way back in…well, a while ago.
This trip is a special one. Usually the DC trip is an 8th grade adventure, but because the current freshman and sophomore classes did not get to go (due to Covid) our district and trip coordinator worked together to make sure these students get the opportunity to explore the city that is so critical to America and our history as a nation.
So please say a little prayer for my safety and sanity as I embark on a five day excursion with students and colleagues.