8th Grade Trip: Washington, D.C.

VMS School News
April 17, 2014- The experience of visiting our nation's capital is undeniable. The history and traditions, the palpable energy created by the workings of the world's “longest standing” democracy, and even just witnessing the scope of what is required to run this great county leaves an impression on all visitors. This year, our eighth grade spent five days in Washington D.C., each student leaving with powerful memories and a greater appreciation of the role of government in the lives of its citizens. 

Their journey wove together several threads from the eighth graders' civics curriculum.  First, they had studied key political controversies for a documentary competition and repurposed what they learned into questions for their meeting with Senator Michael Bennet. Second, each student went to Washington as an expert on one historical monument, having researched its background and significance in preparation to present to their peers on site. As a follow up, the students are currently using the school’s 3-D printer to create a model of each monument to produce a board game that teaches about the landmarks.

Many of the "aha" moments came at times that one could predict--witnessing the changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery, observing the founding documents at the National Archives, or touching an actual moon rock at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Other epiphanies came from the aggregate experience of walking the National Mall, the time spent taking in the experience between the WWII Memorial and the Lincoln Monument, or strolling through the eight-acre FDR Memorial en route to the MLK Memorial--all the time surrounded by the peak bloom of the iconic cherry blossoms. The students showed maturity beyond their years, letting loose when appropriate (eating crabs in Annapolis or cheering on the Washington Wizards), then flipping the switch to show the deference and respect that many of the sites required.

The eighth grade trip to Washington, D.C. was new this year and proved to be a valuable extension of the 8th grade curriculum as well as the beginning of yet another great VMS tradition.