5:00 am alarm clock! Wake up it’s time to go!! This volunteer was all ready to hit the road for 3 days in our Nation’s capital, Washington DC. The 5th grade class at AB Combs Leadership Magnet Elementary spent the school year holding fund-raisers for scholarships to allow a majority of the students to attend this one-in-a-lifetime experience. The teachers included curriculum on our destination in the preceding days, and watching National Treasure helped hype up the class for our adventure. Our buses rolled out of the parking lot by 6:15 and we were on our way.
Our trip included a tour guide per bus. We were fortunate to have a knowledgeable, friendly, and funny guide to enhance the ride through the city, explaining buildings and monuments. He also gave us stories, information, and more at each stop. The self-guided tour of the National Mall included a trip to the National Archives to see the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. We headed to the National Museum of Natural History, where we made DNA necklaces in the Q?rius lab. Next up was the National Museum of American History, housing the First Ladies inaugural gowns, Julia Child’s kitchen, the original Star Spangled Banner, and Dorothy’s ruby slippers. There was something for everyone.
Monuments are an important reminder of our past, memorializing our history and events that shaped our nation and the world. The AB Combs 5th grade class visited the Pentagon 9-11 memorial, MLK, FDR, WWII, Vietnam War and Korean War memorials. Our tour guide brought them to life by explaining the intent of the design by the architect and the history of events that shaped the moment. Most impressive was our trip to Arlington National Cemetery, where many of our fallen are honored, including the Iran Hostages and the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. We visited the Lincoln Memorial and Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Our tour guide was impressed with our student’s good behavior, and equally impressed with the various questions by our curious group.
The best part for me was a child in my group in our hotel, after the 2nd full day, walking in the rain and cold, who stated “It’s too bad we can’t stay longer. This is so much fun and we are learning so much!!” The exhaustion setting in before bedtime took hold and we slept soundly ready to start day 3.
The morning of our last day was spent taking photos outside the White House. We did not get a glimpse of our president, but we did learn of the ever-present peace protestor camped in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Then we ended our day exploring the National Air & Space Museum, a must-see for any aviation fans. It is incredible to see the miracle of air travel, the marvel of space exploration, and the inventions required to make it all happen. Inspiring and engaging for all. Plus, the largest gift shop inside for all your souvenir needs.
My volunteer days were well-spent. It was encouraging and uplifting reminder of the importance of educating all our children on the history of our country, the inspiration of our future, and the gifts of living in a free, democratic nation. – Rachel B.