Eighth Grade Washington, D.C. Trip Was Memorable Learning Experience

A visit to our nation’s capital was a memory-making experience for the 39 eighth graders who toured Washington, D.C. March 13-15. “The trip  was a great success,” said Principal Scott DeTray, who accompanied the students. “Experiences like this have both educational and developmental value. “I think some of the students came away with a new appreciation for historical events and individuals who helped shape our great nation, which enhanced patriotism among our students. Looking back they will always remember what they saw and experienced.”  

The itinerary included more than forty stops, each one significant in its own way. “Each student explores people and events from the past to find one with personal significance or meaning beyond what is seen.  This personal connection with the past develops their sense of patriotism and appreciation for the freedoms we have as Americans,” he said.

While increasing awareness of the responsibilities and duties as American citizens, the trip was designed to enhance the eighth grade social studies curriculum related to American history. On Monday, they toured Arlington National Cemetery, including the John F. Kennedy gravesite with the eternal flame, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier where they witnessed the Changing of the Guard and Wreath Ceremony. That evening, they visited the Pentagon, Martin Luther King, Jr., Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Jefferson memorials.  

Tuesday’s itinerary included the Supreme Courthouse, Library of Congress, Capitol Hill, the Holocaust Memorial Museum, Navy Memorial, National Mall, Museum of Natural History and Museum of American History. They also visited the White House, Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Women’s Memorial, and the Korean War Veterans Memorial. On their return home on Wednesday, the group visited the Gettysburg Visitor Center where they viewed the film “Fields of Freedom” and had a guided tour of the battlefields. 

“This experiential learning helped our students to gain a deeper understanding of American history through active participation on tours which included reflection and interpretation”, noted the principal. “Exploring monuments and exhibits that highlight individuals or historic events instills an appreciation for the service and sacrifice of individuals who fought and died to protect the freedoms that Americans hold dear.

DeTray noted that for some students, this was their first time away from home on their own. It required students to follow directions and adhere to schedules, while participating as a member of a large group. “In doing so, the experience afforded the students the opportunity to demonstrate increased self-responsibility,” he concluded.