48 students from Shaker Junior High School enriched their knowledge and appreciation for government and history by spending five days in Washington, D.C. over their April vacation. This trip was organized by Shaker Junior High School social studies teacher and student council co-advisor Seth Harris, and was open to students involved in student council or the Law Day mock trial program.
The trip gave students a unique opportunity to learn about the federal government. They toured government buildings, such as the Capitol and the Supreme Court, examined primary source documents at the National Portrait Gallery, and learned about our nation’s history from different Smithsonian museums.
“This trip allowed me to see our nation’s capital at such a young age,” said Matthew Sullivan, a 7th grade student in Houston Hall. “By seeing this at such a young age, I will remember it better and bring what I learned into the classroom for a much more meaningful lesson.”
When the group arrived in Washington on Tuesday, April 7, they walked around all of the national monuments and memorials, including the Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, George Mason Memorial, and Jefferson Memorial. After dinner, students went to see the White House illuminated at night.
On Wednesday, April 8, students toured the Supreme Court building, attended a lecture in the main courtroom, and had a special tour of the Capitol, courtesy of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. In the afternoon, students visited Arlington National Cemetery to see the changing of the guard and a special wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the eternal flame at the grave of President Kennedy. In fact, one student was able to locate his uncle, who was buried in the cemetery. In the evening, the group visited Georgetown for dinner and shopping.
On Thursday, April 9, students toured the National Portrait Gallery with museum educators, who taught the art of portraiture through the portraits of Rosa Parks, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, LL Cool J, Pocahontas, George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Bill Clinton, George Bush and George W. Bush. Next, students visited the National Museum of Air and Space, followed by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. While at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, students viewed “Daniel’s Story”, in which they experienced the Holocaust through the eyes of a 12-year old boy, as well as the permanent exhibition, which had students engaged and silent for the entire time. For dinner, the group visited Ben’s Chili Bowl, made famous by its celebrity customers over the years, including Barack Obama and family.
On Friday, April 10, students visited the Newseum, which illustrates the importance of the media in protecting Americans’ First Amendment rights. Students viewed a 4D movie, examined newspapers dating back to John Peter Zenger’s New York Journal, and walked along a section of the Berlin Wall. Next, the group visited the National Museum of American History and the Hirshhorn Collection of Contemporary Art. Finally, the group ended its day with a show at the Kennedy Center. The show was the Tamagawa University Dance and Taiko Troupe, which performed to a packed auditorium in honor of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
The trip ended on Saturday, April 11, with a visit to Eastern Market, a popular D.C. farmer’s market and craft fair.
“The Capitol was the most amazing part of the trip,” said Liberty Arnold, an 8th grade student. “I saw all of the people who our halls were named for, and now, the way our government runs just makes so much more sense. I just wish I had five more days!”
The trip was chaperoned by four Shaker Junior High School teachers: Kristina Gabriele, Kara Matthews, April Peluso, and Seth Harris. Four parents and family members also chaperoned, including, Philip and Elizabeth Fazio, Jeffrey Kelley, and Caroline Tarantino.