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Memories, Memorials, and a Monumental Election

The eighth grade was in our nation's capital for the historic presidential election and a thorough tour of our country's past.

Eighth+grader+Chase+Shapiro+takes+a+photo+of+the+candle++that+rests+upon+a+crypt+of+earth+taken+from+Nazi+concentration+camps+in+the+Holocaust+Memorial+and+Museum.
Eighth grader Chase Shapiro takes a photo of the candle  that rests upon a crypt of earth taken from Nazi concentration camps in the Holocaust Memorial and Museum.

Eighth grader Chase Shapiro takes a photo of the candle that rests upon a crypt of earth taken from Nazi concentration camps in the Holocaust Memorial and Museum.

Mr. Crisafi

Mr. Crisafi

Eighth grader Chase Shapiro takes a photo of the candle that rests upon a crypt of earth taken from Nazi concentration camps in the Holocaust Memorial and Museum.

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Left to right: Eighth graders Alex Michelon, Carter Stewart, Steven Gu, and Garison Gelman read their poem based on MLK, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech in front ofthe civil rights leader's memorial.

Mr. Crisafi
Left to right: Eighth graders Alex Michelon, Carter Stewart, Steven Gu, and Garison Gelman read their poem based on MLK, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in front ofthe civil rights leader’s memorial.

One of the most surprising presidential elections in history happened on the evening of November 8, and the eighth grade was in our nation’s capital to witness it! Crammed into the conference room of the Best Western Rosslyn/Iwo Jima Hotel, the students furiously filled out their electoral college maps with blue and red crayons while they watched the election live on CNN. Of course, some students, exhausted from the day of touring Washington, D.C., couldn’t help but fall asleep on the conference room floor amidst boxes of half-eaten pizza and mini cupcake wrappers.

Still, it was an unforgettable trip, not only because of the down-to-the-wire dogfight between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, but because of the sheer number of sights and events packed into the four-day excursion.

Arriving on campus at 5:00 a.m. on Monday, November 7, the faculty chaperones managed to get all 80 students on the two charter buses and then successfully file them all through security at Fort Lauderdale International Airport.

After the two-and-a-half-hour plane ride, the eighth-grade class arrived in D.C. just before 11:00 a.m. They started their busy schedule with lunch at either the Air and Space Smithsonian Museum or the American History Smithsonian Museum. They then headed over to Ford’s Theatre, the Holocaust Memorial and Museum, and a night view of the monuments, including the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and Korean War Veterans Memorial.

It was just around 9:00 p.m. when everyone checked into the traditional hotel – the Best Western Rosslyn/Iwo Jima. This is

Eighth graders Julia Kirschenbaum and Kate Lower consider "Woman in E," an example of performance art by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson in the Hirshhorn Museum.

Mr. Crisafi
Eighth graders Julia Kirschenbaum and Kate Lower consider “Woman in E,” an example of performance art by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson in the Hirshhorn Museum.

how the students’ schedules went each of the four days they were there – busy and active. Some of the other highlights included a White House tour the day after the election (the students can always say they were in the White House before President-Elect Trump was), a trip to George Washington’s preserved Mount Vernon home, and a guided ghost tour that took students around Lafayette Park and allowed them to learn about supposed ghosts of former military and political figures such as Henry Rathbone, Abigail Adams, and Abraham Lincoln. “On the ghost tour, our guide, [Mr. Chad Eric Smith], was an amazing tour guide,” said eighth grader Grace Flatscher. “He was so enthusiastic, and he showed that he [loves doing ghost tours] for a job.”

Other students had a hard time picking their favorite experience. “I had no favorite part about Washington, D.C. because all of it was amazing!” said eighth grader Nick Murphy.

The teachers and chaperones worked extremely hard before and during the entire trip and all agree that it was successful and fun for everyone.

“I think the trip went very well,” explained eighth-grade history teacher, Mrs. Anne Franzen, who, along with Spanish teacher Mr. Charles Maddox and History Department Chair Mr. Marshall Mullnix, planned the “field study” as Mr. Hagy calls it. “Everyone was safe and learned so much about [our] history and culture,” continued Franzen. “My favorite memory was going through the Natural History Museum with four boys who were so excited about the insect zoo and the Hall of Gems. [Next year], I plan to spend more time [preparing] students for things to look for in specific museums.”

THe students listen to a docent explain the statues beneath the rotunda in the Capitol Building.

Mr. Crisafi
The students listen to a docent explain the statues beneath the rotunda in the Capitol Building.

Mr. Crisafi also felt that the trip was a huge success and was excited to have been a part of it this year, especially because he was able to share the experience with his eighth-grade daughter, Briley.

“My favorite memory was probably watching Briley and her classmates lay the wreath [at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier]. That ceremony in and of itself is full of tradition, dignity, and honor, and for my daughter to be a part of that was extremely special.”

However, he feels the trip could be a little less intense in the future.

“[For next year] I think we need to lighten the schedule a bit,” said Crisafi. “Three hours to see four Smithsonians is not enough time, and I think it’s always better to have quality over quantity – especially with a trip like that.”

Head of Middle School Charles Hagy had a great time as well, and was very happy with the student’s behavior and flexibility.

“I thought it was an incredible trip for students and faculty. [I thought it was funny that our group was] named the ‘Huggable Hagys’ and they had a cheer and all that, but I just enjoyed being with my group. The Holocaust [Memorial and] Museum is very emotional, and the [lady who worked there] came up to me and said, ‘impressive, very impressive group.’ I think [the students’] hard work before the trip, Mrs. Franzen’s thorough preparations, and Mr. Maddox’s details all paid off.”

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Memories, Memorials, and a Monumental Election