Over the week of April 15th-19th, seven Pillager Area Charter School students travelled to Washington, D.C. for their end-of-session field experience. With the capital as the hub of our country’s global relations, it was the perfect location to culminate our Global Perspectives session. Students took advantage of several opportunities to fundraise for this trip throughout the year. The students were also required to do research on local activities during the five weeks of the session leading up to the trip. They became experts on places such as the World War II Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, Ford’s Theatre, the Capital and more. Each student presented their researched information before heading to our nation’s capital.
The students and staff stayed at the Kellogg Conference Hotel located on the campus of Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.. This campus is the premier private school geared specifically for deaf and hard of hearing students, so the students were immediately immersed in American Sign Language. The day of arrival, the group hit Smithsonian Natural History Museum, the National Archives and took a bus tour of the National Mall. Many in the group were intrigued by the documents contained in the National Archives, and it was quite an experience to view the Declaration of Independence in person.
On the morning of the second day, we were able to go on a tour of the Capital with one of Representative Pete Stauber’s interns. We were able to see where the original United States Supreme Court was located, which was historically significant since Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney presided over the Dredd Scott case in 1857. Following the Capital tour, the group travelled to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Here they were able to view Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, a follow up to a previous trip to his childhood home in Little Falls. In addition, they were able to learn about the Wright Brothers’ impact on aeronautical engineering and learn more about the space program. The final event for the day was a trip to Nationals Park for a baseball game.
Students spent their third full day in Washington, D.C. by spending the morning learning about animals from all over the world at the Smithsonian Zoological Park. After lunch, they walked down to the White House and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. They were shocked to see how elaborately decorative the executive building was, especially considering it neighbored the White House so closely. The next stop was to the National Portrait Gallery, where students were able to view presidential portraits. The Gallery currently has the exhibit of Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence. Next, we had a tour and presentation at Ford’s Theatre, learning about the conspiracies against Abraham Lincoln and his murder. We ended our day with a tour through Chinatown and a family meal at the Chinatown Garden.
Our final day in Washington began at Arlington National Cemetery. Everyone was able to watch the Changing of the Guard and a Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The students and staff in attendance were in awe of the depth and solemnity of the ceremony. They even visited John F. Kennedy’s gravesite to see the Eternal Flame. The afternoon was spent visiting the various memorials on the National Mall, including the Vietnam Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and more. Students learned much about the significance of the wars and memorials by reading and walking through them.
Overall, the trip was an incredible experience for all involved!