Washington D.C. Here We Come!

A group of 6th grade students from Briarfield Academy in Lake Providence, Louisiana will travel to our nation's capitol, Washington D.C. on May 6th, 2009. They will be accompanied by their teacher and several chaperones. They are very excited to travel to the capitol city after following the election process during the school year. We hope you enjoy learning about their experience in the months leading up to their trip and on the trip itself.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Cemeteries and Homesteads - Day Three

After last night's one mile or so walk back to the hotel, Mr. Andy came up with a brilliant idea to use the extra transportation money that we had to hire a chartered coach to drive us around. The places we wanted to see were very far apart and would have required some tricky maneuvering on public transportation to get there. Also, “Yes, Drill Sergeant Sir” Stephanie would not have to herd everyone on and off of the subway which sometimes can get a little stressful. I must say however, that after our first experience on the subway, we learned that you have to stick together, stay away from the edge of the tracks, let others off before you get on but move fast to get on or the doors will shut on you (Ask Cherie), and move out of the way when you are on the subway and others need to get off. We were able to sleep in a little this morning which was a nice change. Have we mentioned that the breakfast in our hotel is fantastic! It was great to take the time to really enjoy it. The first place we went today was Arlington Cemetery and our driver was an excellent tour guide telling us about several key points of interest along the way. What looked like miles of white tombstones was a sobering reminder of everyone that has died to give us the freedom that we have today. We saw the grave of John F. Kennedy, his wife and two infants buried with them and yes the eternal flame was still burning. We then walked up the hill to the home of General Lee. The exhibit inside the home was very interesting with a lot of facts about his family and his wife's family. The highlight of the visit was to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the changing of the guard. Taylor and Wyatt reported on the strict requirements of being a guardsmen of the tomb and the significance of their march. Our driver then dropped us off at a food court in a mall near the Pentagon. While passing the Pentagon, our driver pointed out the site on the Pentagon where the plane hit during the 9/11 attack. Food courts are great for a bunch of people who all have different ideas about what they like to eat. We took our food to go and ate on the bus heading to Mt. Vernon, home of George Washington. We were a few minutes late for the National Treasure Tour that Mrs. Tisha had prearranged and it was a frantic pace to catch up with the tour guide, but we made it. The tour was really interesting, pointing out sites on the property where the National Treasure film was made and places that inspired sets for the movie. It was really cool to go into places like the basement and look into the ice house that other people were not allowed to do because they weren't on the tour. We were then able to catch the last tour of the Mt. Vernon home which was beautiful. We all wished we could sit a spell on the porch and take in the view of the Potomac. It was absolutely stunning. Jase gave us a report on Mt Vernon and George Washington as we rode back to Washington D.C. He cleared up a few misconceptions and enlightened us with facts. George Washington did not have wooden teeth, but he did have false teeth made out of cow teeth, human teeth, lead, and ivory. We were able to see the teeth and they had big springs on the side and looked VERY uncomfortable. George had lost all but one of his teeth by the time he was 22 years old even though he was considered to be very healthy. He also did not chop down a cherry tree, but he did have quite a variety of trees in his orchard. The outdoor outhouse was the fanciest one we had ever seen. It was a three holer, located right in a flower garden, and we found out that the waste products were used as fertilizer in the garden. There were sheep everywhere because they wove their own cloth from the wool to clothe themselves and their slaves. George Washington was always thinking about his visitors and their comfort as he added on to his home. In one year he hosted almost 700 guests including people he did not even know and some stayed for months at a time. George's dad died when he was 11 and his formal education stopped. He committed to never stop learning and attempted to educate himself through reading everything on every subject. He considered education very important and made sure that by the time he died, he had enough money saved to provide for an education for his step-children and later his grandchildren. As many of you know, we were unable to get tickets to tour the White House. Our driver took us by the White House so we could at least get out and take a peek. We actually got more than our eyes bargained for when we encountered a peaceful protest by some mothers that chose to demonstrate topless. For those of you who have sons, don't worry, they were very unattractive older women. With the demonstration so close, the security was very tight at the White House fence and several of us were reprimanded for stepping over the imaginary line of security. We also saw snipers on the top of the White House and helicopters flying overhead. We hope that the memory of our visit to the White House will not be too tarnished by what we encountered. It became yet another teaching moment about the freedoms written into the constitution and how different people interpret them. At this point, we were all getting hungry and the big decision came down to stick with the original plan of eating our last meal at the Hard Rock Cafe or go back to the hotel to eat pizza and swim. It was a split decision so we parted ways and everyone got to do what they wanted on their last night in Washington D.C. I think that for chaperones and students alike, this trip was definitely a learning experience in a lot of different ways. Thank you for trusting us with your kids. We had a blast and we are so glad be going home to L.P. where people can carry pocket knives and enter a building without having to take off their belt and go through security!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Museums and Memorials - Day Two

Hello to all our blog watchers. We have really enjoyed all of your comments so please let us know that you are reading. Mrs. Tisha read the posts to everyone today, one at a time, and it was like the show Survivor where everyone gets to hear from their loved ones. I wanted to straighten out one misconception, Mrs. Stephanie is the master photographer here, not Mrs. Amy. She is doing a great job documenting our trip and there are many more photos that you haven't seen. I handed blog duty over last night after I was hit with a terrible migraine and spent supper time over a trashcan in McDonalds. The good news is that Laurie, Logan V., Chase, and myself took a taxi ride to the hotel and witnessed the presidential motorcade leaving the White House. The cab driver said it was the president because it was followed by an ambulance. Today was a better day though and here is our fascinating account of the day. Today started great with a ride on the subway. The highlight of our subway ride occurred at the end when Mr. Andy apprehended a young man that had just stolen an ipod from another man leaving the subway. Mr. Andy told the young man to give the ipod back and he did. As we exited the subway, we told the police and they were able to catch the young man and the other people that he had with him. The police came and found Mr. Andy and took him to the police station to get a statement from him. The "victim" had disappeared. Laurie turned the incident into a learning experience for the group. The group will tell you that they have learned a lot about life in the city on this trip including negative and positive uses of our right to freedom of speech. We learned that just because someone utilized their right to freedom of speech doesn't mean you have to listen! Our first museum this morning was the Museum of Natural History. Everyone wanted to see the T-Rex (Rexie) of Night at the Museum fame. We found him along with lots of stuffed animals, sea creatures, and prehistoric animals. Before we left the museum, the females, Mr. Andy, and Ben took a peek at the Hope Diamond which was declared to be "gorgeous". By this time it was time for lunch and a food court in the Reagan building filled our bellies. The Museum of American History was next on the list where we saw fun things such as Old locomotives, early automobiles and buses, the ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz, Kermit the frog himself, an entire exhibit on Abraham Lincoln including his hat, The original Star Spangled Banner, and much more. Mrs. Stephanie broke a rule and took a picture of the Star Spangled Banner. It wasn't her fault that she missed the tiny sign that said not to when she entered the room. You get to benefit from her naughtiness! We took an ice cream break and walked to the Washington Monument where Adam gave his speech from his research. Some of the boys played an impromptu game on the lawn before we moved on to the Holocaust Museum. We did not have as much time here as we would have liked, but we spent an hour in the museum and I think that everyone was able to get the general idea of why we were there and what we were learning. Some were impacted more than others, but all will remember what they learned. Deuteronomy 4:9 is quoted at the end "Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them." I believe they will. We then walked over to the WWII memorial at the foot of the reflecting pool at the Mall. I was amazed at the knowledge these kids had of the details of the WWII, the Korean, and the Vietnam War. Mrs. Tisha did a great job preparing them for this trip and they have learned things that my own children can not tell you having left high school. Mrs. Tisha would ask them questions and someone would give a report at each memorial spot. It was amazing!! After leaving the WWII memorial, we walked down the reflecting pool toward Lincoln Memorial. To the right of Lincoln Memorial is the Korean War memorial. The statues of men walking through the field is haunting. There are 19 figures that reflect 19 images in the granite wall beside it. This totals 38 which represents the 38th parallel also known as the line of demarcation. From there we walked up the gazillion steps to the Lincoln Memorial. The kids had a great time trying to find all of the misspelled words engraved on the wall. We took a little break on the steps before walking back down. We then went to the Vietnam Memorial Wall. By the time got there, exhaustion had set in, our stomachs were growling, and we had the choice of walking a mile back to our hotel or walking a mile to the subway station where we would ride the subway back and walk another 1/4 mile to our hotel. We took the straight shot home where we ate a great meal in an Italian restaurant in the hotel. The arcade in the hotel was full with our students until 11 p.m. At this point in the trip, Mrs. Tisha's rule of NO SUGAR or CAFFEINE after 6 p.m. and bedtime at 10 p.m. has completely flown out the window, BUT every kid has hit the pillow hard when the lights turn out. Granted it is 11:54 and our lights are still on, but I told you that I was not going to be blogging in the bathroom!! So, I hope you have enjoyed this post. We are sleeping in a little tomorrow and have hired a charter bus at the last minute to drive us around tomorrow because we can't walk another step!!! Don't worry, the price didn't go up! Watch for another blog post tomorrow.