Washington D.C. 2019

Day 4 - National Zoo

For our final day in DC we started the morning off at the National Zoo. The rain held off for us and the kids had a few hours to explore. Many went to the panda house, where they watched three adorable pandas chomping away on their breakfast. Others challenged themselves to walk to every exhibit in the allotted time, quite a feat given the size of the park. We then met our groups and headed off for our final lunch in DC.

After lunch the rain began, and each group altered their schedule accordingly. For those of us traveling to BWI, we knew the rain meant more traffic and we headed straight for the airport. For those traveling out of Reagan, there was a little time to explore the American History Museum before heading to the airport for departure.

The flights home were all on time and all students had been picked up from Diamond by about 8:30. It was an incredible trip with AWESOME kids!!! I can not tell you how many times I called the group together to thank them for their behavior. So many other school groups were correcting their students and we were praising ours! They were respectful of the memorials and one another, curious at the museums, kind and communicative to the tour guides, and flexible when plans had to change. They also formed new friendships with one another and supported those who were struggling to be away from home. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to travel with these children and I hope they have made lasting memories. I also would like to thank all of the chaperones who took time away from their own families in order to make this trip happen. It is exhausting, and at times stressful - but when the students embrace it as this year's students did - it is all worth it. Finally, a very special thank you to Ms. Sharp! The efforts to organize this trip are truly monumental and I am forever in her debt that she is willing to undertake such a huge project each year. The logistics of the trip were seamless - amazing when you think about the fact that we had over 300 people all moving at the same time!

Please enjoy a few highlights below from our last day - and continue to check for all of our photos here: Washington DC Photos.

Day 3 - Arlington National Cemetery

Well, we had another packed, but fun day. After breakfast we all headed to Arlington National Cemetery where we saw the grave of John F. Kennedy and witnessed the ceremony of the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier. We all heard the history of the land from our knowledgable tour guides before we boarded the buses to head to lunch. Lunch was at the Reagan Building where we were able to choose from a variety of different restaurants in a very large food court. Many of us even enjoyed ice cream after our meal!

The afternoon was filled with different activities for each group. Groups then gathered at the White House before heading to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. This museum was another favorite for many of our students and chaperones. To begin your museum tour visitors ride in a glass elevator backwards in time. You emerge in the 15th century where you learn about the slave trade through various lenses. Visitors then circulate upwards through the 85,000 square feet of exhibition space learning about the history and culture of African Americans.

Before dinner, some groups went to the Natural History Museum and others found some grassy space to relax and have an official "recess" . (it's about time!). Others used the time to shop for souvenirs or visit some of the memorials they hadn't yet seen.

After the afternoon tours, groups had a huge dinner at Buca di Beppo including 2 different salads, fettuccine alfredo, spaghetti, chicken parm, and a hot chocolate chip cookie that was at least 4 inches in diameter! Groups traveled from dinner to view the memorials at night before heading back to the hotel for some much needed sleep.

Below, please find a few highlights. Be sure to view all of our pictures here: Washington D.C. Photos

Day 2 - The Capitol and More!

Wow! What a packed day! Everyone woke up refreshed this morning and after enjoying a hearty breakfast that included eggs, bacon, potatoes, pancakes, cereal, fresh fruit, juice, coffee and tea we all set off for the Capitol for our group photo. Wearing our pink D.C. t-shirts, we lined up all 296 students by height and then organized them in front of the Capitol to take a panoramic photo. The kids were all amazing and believe it or not, the whole process moved along quickly.

After our photo we had a surprise for the students - Congresswoman Clark was going to meet us behind the Capitol building! Our groups all made our way to the back of the building - and although one group was told she wasn't coming and left - the others arrived in time to be greeted by one of her staff members. She then joined our students on the lawn, answering questions, sharing her thoughts and musings, and taking selfies. The students - and chaperones - were very excited to meet her and even more impressed with her approachability and warmth.

Following the meet and greet each group headed off on a slightly different itinerary. Some groups toured memorials, such as MLK, FDR, Jefferson, Vietnam and Korea while others headed straight to lunch. All groups eventually made their way to the Air and Space Museum where the students had time to explore the exhibits and even catch a 3D movie (if they chose to do so). Some groups also had the opportunity to visit the Library of Congress and one group even had lunch at the Department of Agriculture. Everyone met up again at the Newseum, an incredible museum dedicated to the journalism coverage of current events and previous news worthy stories. This is a favorite for many of the chaperones and I think after today, many of our students might feel the same. There is an exhibit dedicated to the Pulitzer Prize winning photos that is simply breathtaking and many of our students were visibly moved as well. There is also a large exhibit containing actual newspapers dating all the way back to 1492! A new exhibit outlined the LGBTQ movement from Stonewall until present day. Once we completed our tour there, we all came back to the hotel to get ready for the Cherry Blossom Boat cruise!

This year, unlike the last two years, we were not exhausted from waking up at 3am...so the boat cruise was honestly the best we've ever had! Students danced all night, and those who weren't interested in dancing played cards and socialized on the top deck out in the fresh night air. There are lots of photos and videos in the folder so be sure to check them out!!

Tomorrow we head to Arlington National Cemetery and will then see the National Museum of African American History and Culture and whatever else we can fit in before an Italian dinner at Buca di Beppo. Be sure to check back tomorrow to read all about our adventures - and check out ALL of our photos here: Washington D.C. Photos - for now, enjoy these highlights:

Day 1 - Arrival

Today was a fantastic day - and it was much less tiring than waking up at 3am. We all arrived on time at BWI and Reagan and traveled right to the Pentagon City Mall for dinner. Then groups headed off for different evening adventures. Most groups saw the touching Pentagon 9-11 memorial with striking benches that faced either towards the building or away indicating whether they represented a victim from the plane or the building. Some then headed to visit memorials including the Iwo Jima, Korea, Lincoln and Vietnam. The groups all headed back to the Arlington Court Suites to check into our rooms. We had a final bed check at 10:00 and then drifted off to sleep dreaming about the days ahead.

Below are a few highlights. To see ALL our photos please visit this link: Washington D.C. Photos

We are very excited to be leaving for our trip tomorrow! Please be sure to re-read the emails that Ms. Sharp has sent out as they contain very important reminders and information. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Be sure you do not pack liquids that are larger than 3oz.
  • You may want to pack a few healthy snacks - we will be having an early lunch
  • Be sure you arrive to school on time - there may be increased drop offs tomorrow morning so please plan accordingly
  • Wear your team t-shirt tomorrow
  • Get a good night's sleep tonight so you will be well rested for the trip