Eighth Graders Travel to D.C. for First Time in Two Years


The Class of 2026 poses in front of the Einstein Statue for the traditional group picture. (Mr. Bradley Galvin)

“The Rome of America,” “The Capital of Freedom,” and “Chocolate City” are all nicknames for our country’s capital, Washington, D.C. This year, after the pandemic halted the trip for the past two years, the eighth graders traveled there on April 26 for a four-day stay. During the trip, TBS students toured the city and made meaningful connections to what they were learning in Mr. Rudolph Devries’ eighth-grade World History class. They also completed assignments related to the various sights and experiences.  

Day one of D.C. started with a normal dropoff at school where students were met with an orientation by Devries who went over some guidelines and told them what groups they were in and who each group’s chaperone was. The students then boarded two coach buses and headed to Palm Beach International airport. The three-hour flight took them to D.C. where they were met by their bus drivers and headed to the Capitol Building and several other different monuments such as the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, Korean War Memorial, and the World War II Veterans Memorial.

Many students had lots of fun during this “field study,” as Mr. Hagy likes to call it.

“The trip was amazing because I got to leave Florida and I got to see some monuments,” said eighth grader Aidan Brown. “I also got to spend time with friends as we toured our nation’s capital together.”

That evening, the students stayed in their hotel rooms at the Crystal City Courtyard Marriott. It was the first time the students stayed two per room instead of four, so everyone had a lot more space to sleep.

Students have a moment of silence at the memorial of Mr. Bayless’ father, Robert Wallace Bayless, in Arlington National Cemetery. (Mr. Bradley Galvin)

The morning of day two began as students received their phones back from their chaperones and had a meeting in the morning. They boarded the bus and left to begin their day at the National Museum of African-American History. The students were prepared with assignments and research on African-American culture before the trip. The next stop was perhaps one of the most meaningful because it showcased the tragedies of our nation’s veterans – it was a stop at Arlington National Cemetery.

One of the most special aspects of the visit to Arlington was the ceremony dedicated to history teacher Mr. Bob Bayless’s mother and father who are both buried there. After a few hours, the Bucs toured associate teacher Mr. Bradley Galvin’s alma mater: Georgetown, followed by bowling and pizza afterward.

The next morning, while eating breakfast, the students were required to create a poem using quotes from the famous “I Have a Dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. At the MLK memorial, the groups held a poetry slam where all the poems were read, resulting in Mr. Galvin’s group, along with Bus One, taking home the victory. After that, the eighth-grade class visited the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Capitol Building, Library of Congress, and Supreme Court. 

Since the Smithsonian Museum of Air and Space is currently closed due to renovations, everyone was taken to the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum where they split up and enjoyed seeing the different types of aircraft. This year, due to loss of time because of flight delays, each bus was asked to pick between the Natural History Museum or the American History Museum. Students and teachers alike enjoyed the time they spent in the museums, although they wish it could have been longer. 

“I wish we had more time at the American History [Museum], said math teacher and chaperone Mrs. Lindsey Tanona. “I could have spent all day there because of the number of different exhibits the museum had.”

After that stop, the class joined together once again to tour the National Archives where students saw very important documents like the Declaration of Independence, Magna Carta, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

Students were then given coupons to use at the Pentagon City Mall where the eighth graders purchased their D.C. sweatshirts. The final stop was the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in the evening. The memorial consisted of many little benches that had the names of the victims that died in the Pentagon. The students were appropriately reverent and took their time walking through the area.

 “The 911 Pentagon Memorial was very sad to see because of all the people that lost their lives on that day,” said eighth grader Aidan Brown. 

On the last day, our Benjamin students went to the Holocaust Memorial Museum. For the past few weeks leading up to the trip, the eighth grade had studied the Holocaust so that they were prepared for what they were going to witness. 

Eighth-grade student Alexander Perkins gives Reid Waxman a piggyback ride at the Supreme Court. (Mr. Bradley Galvin)

“The students handled the museum very well,” said DeVries. “I think that the Holocaust Museum was the most meaningful thing we saw, and I saw [in] the students a lot of growth throughout the trip leading up to this moment.” 

After that, it was finally time to head home. Students had their lunch at the Washington Monument, where they had a chance to catch up with their friends and converse. Whether it was the museums or the monuments, all the students enjoyed the trip. 

“My favorite part of the trip was the picnic 9at the Washington Monument] because it was fun to spend time with my friends that I didn’t get to talk to throughout the trip.”

“One monument I really enjoyed was the Washington Monument because of how much bigger it was than I expected,” said eighth grader Ryan Smith. “I also learned about America’s greatest commanders at the Arlington National Cemetery.”

“Our trip was an acquired taste because at first we were not used to this new environment, [but we] ended up having a lot of fun,” said eighth grader Caroline Fuller.  “My favorite part of the trip was going to the mall and hanging out with my friends.” 

Many of the teachers also enjoyed their time in Washington, D.C.

 “The trip was fun because I got to spend time with students outside of school and see the nation’s capital,” said Tanona. 

“I think this is one of the best trips we’ve ever had because of how well the students behaved and the anticipation of not being able to go since our 2019-2020 school year,” said Head of Middle School Mr. Charles Hagy, “and I knew it had to happen no matter when or how different it was.”