SARATOGA SPRINGS/ WASHINGTON D.C. — On Wednesday, May 8 at 6 a.m., around 400 students, teachers, and chaperones boarded eight buses and made their way to Washington D.C., our nation’s capital. Maple Avenue Middle School wanted to make the eighth graders’ trip an amazing trip to remember!
A wake-up call at 4:45 a.m. was probably the one of the most grueling challenges of that early Wednesday morning. The other challenge was the eight-hour bus ride ahead… Luckily, students distracted themselves with movies, sleep, and socializing with each other to shorten the bus ride.
Once in the capital, the eight buses split-up to navigate on a different excursion. My bus, number eight, started our trip off by meeting our tour guide, Tony. We then went to four different memorials, starting off with the Korean War Veterans Memorial.
Students respectfully admired the nineteen statues of soldiers and the Pool of Remembrance. After, we drove to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial where we walked beside the walls etched with the names of the fallen soldiers who fought in the war. We then made our way to the Lincoln Memorial where students took pictures of the famous statue of Abraham Lincoln and stood by the edge of the Reflecting Pool. We then walked to the World War II Memorial to end our first day.
After meeting back at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center (where we were staying over the course of our trip) students enjoyed dinner and a night of dancing to celebrate the beginning of our trip.
We started our second day off at Arlington National Cemetery where we saw the powerful significance of the changing of the guards and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We also paid our respects at the grave of President John F. Kennedy. Following that, all the buses met at the Capitol Building to take their group picture. Imagine… placing over 400 people in line by height to gather in front of the Capital for a quick image! Before heading into the Air and Space Museum, we stopped for lunch at a street lined with food trucks. In the Air and Space Museum, we saw the prototypes of NASA rockets and Amelia Earhart’s plane, the Lockheed 5B Vega. After leaving the Air and Space Museum, the students of bus eight were given the option to go to one more Smithsonian museum, the National Museum of Natural History or the National Museum of American History. The other buses were given the choice of other museums.
After we left the Smithsonian museums, we went to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and looked across the Tidal Basin to the Jeff person Memorial. Following the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, we went to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial not too far away. We studied what Roosevelt did during his terms and then headed off to dinner in a park across from the memorial. We then went to the Air Force Memorial to marvel at the tall structures.
After the Air Force Memorial, we went to the Pentagon Memorial. Once we were at the Pentagon, we could see the outline of where the building was rebuilt after the plane crashed. Rows of benches line the memorial with the names of those who passed after the devastating event. The architects of the memorial so carefully constructed it in a way where the benches that faced the
Pentagon showed that that person died within the building, and the benches that faced the Air Force Memorial showed that that person died within the plane. On the benches lied carnations and notes from loved ones. Students were respectful and quiet as they walked the memorial. By the time we left, the sun had set, and we took the bus back to the hotel.
On our last day in Washington, we woke up and packed the bus with our bags and we headed to the Newseum, a museum dedicated to news and communication. Exhibits of photographs from articles that won Pulitzers to an entire room of newspapers that dated back to the fifteenth century. On the lowest floor, stood pieces of the Berlin Wall, with graffiti art on one side, and nothing on the other.
After exploring the Newseum until 12:30 in the afternoon, students endured another long bus ride home to New York… but we were tired and needed the time to rest and relax!
The trip to Washington D.C. was an eye-opening trip that grasped students into our nation’s history. Remembering this trip will not be hard because of all the things we experienced and all the places we went to. This trip would not be possible, though, without the help of all who contributed to this trip. So, on behalf of the eighth-grade students who went on this trip, I say thank you to those who made this happen.