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Eighth-graders visit Washington, D.C., immerse themselves in history

For the first time in three years, Santa Catalina Lower and Middle School eighth-graders visited Washington, D.C., to immerse themselves in our nation’s history. Here are daily updates sent to parents chronicling the students’ grand adventure.

Day 1
Santa Catalina students never cease to impress! After a day of travel (longer for some than others), everyone continued to smile, show genuine gratitude, and enjoy each other’s company. They were all thrilled to meet up with their fellow classmates as each group arrived in D.C. They are such a wonderful group of kids.

Before dinner we stopped by the new Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial, as well as the familiar Iwo Jima Memorial. Everyone enjoyed seeing the Iwo Jima statue, and the boys, of course, had to act like they were part of it.

Day 2
Today was a terrific and very full day. We started the morning at Arlington National Cemetery, where we watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and saw JFK’s and Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s burial sites.

From there we went to the U.S. Air Force Memorial, and then to the National Gallery of Art and the National Museum of Natural History. Some favorites were the dinosaurs and the beautiful Hope Diamond.

Following a pizza dinner, we went to three memorials: the MLK Memorial, FDR Memorial, and Jefferson Memorial. We did lots of walking today, and have been very fortunate with beautiful weather.

It is quiet in the hotel hallway now and hopefully everyone will get a good night’s sleep.

Day 3
Cellphones are all plugged in and everyone is now heading to bed after another wonderful day. We thoroughly enjoyed Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. The drive was well worth it!

When we arrived in Charlottesville, we were treated to some southern fare at Michie Tavern. Everyone ate Southern fried chicken, black-eyed peas, mashed potatoes, and much more, with peach cobbler for dessert.

We then continued on to Monticello, where we toured the inside and outside of this stately home. The home is situated on several acres with the most spectacular view! No wonder Thomas Jefferson preferred being here over anywhere else.

We went to Pentagon City Mall for dinner and a bit of shopping and downtime.

We ended our evening with a stop at the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial. The lights made the effect more stunning and reverent. Our students showed so much respect when we were at the memorial, and listened with great interest during the tour of Monticello. They represent Santa Catalina very well!

Day 4
Today, we became spies with secret code names. The Spy Museum was great. It was both interactive and informational. Everyone enjoyed our time there.

After being secret agents for a couple of hours, we went to the National Zoo. The pandas were adorable! Many students thought the naked mole rat was equally cute. Students ended their time at the zoo enjoying a merry-go-round ride!

After lunch, we went to two museums: the National Museum of African History and the National History Museum. The African History Museum was very well done and its message was important. We learned about the tragic death of Emmett Till and read about brave people like Rosa Parks who stood up for their rights. There was a floor in the museum dedicated to sports and another to music—both very good.

In the National History Museum, we saw the original American flag, dresses worn by our First Ladies, a replica of Julia Child’s kitchen, transportation through the years, and much more.

Then we were off to Camden Yards in Baltimore to watch the Orioles play the Twins. The Os had a good night and we got to see a good game. The kids got very into the game and cheered with the best of them! A ball was tossed and caught by one of our students!

Day 5
Our trip to Washington, D.C., has allowed our history books to come to life right before our eyes! It is impossible to come to our nation’s capital and not feel a sense of pride and patriotism.

We began our morning visiting the Basilica. We had a guide share information about it and then we wandered on our own. It is truly a stunningly beautiful church. Inside it has tile mosaics throughout which make the entire place glisten!

From there we went to three more memorials: the Korean Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial. Our guide gave our students the names of soldiers from the Monterey Peninsula who died in Vietnam. She had them look for the names of these soldiers engraved on the memorial wall. This made the visit more impactful for our group.

Following lunch, we toured the outside of our nation’s capitol building and the White House. We also stopped by the Washington Monument, where our students acted like they were Spider Man.

We had pizza and salad for dinner, then traveled to the National Harbor in Maryland and everyone took a ride on the Capital Wheel.

Bags are now packed up for the most part before our departure tomorrow. We still have activities tomorrow before we hop on our flight.

Day 6
We made it through five days of perfect weather in D.C. However, today, we were greeted with rain from the time we got up. We didn’t allow the weather to stop us from enjoying our final day.

We hopped on the bus and headed to Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. It is a beautiful home set in an equally beautiful setting. This was a perfect final stop on our Washington, D.C., experience!

We were all happy to hear our flight is on schedule and we are all traveling together on the same flight home. Definitely good news!

Again it must be said, the eighth-graders were a pleasure to travel with.

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