Gill St. Bernard’s seventh and eighth graders were on the move this past month, taking part in the traditional and highly anticipated March class trips to Philadelphia (7th grade) and Washington, D.C. (8th grade).
Both trips were designed to complement GSB's middle school history and English curriculum, and they provided a unique opportunity for students to experience and to interact with their subject matter in person.
“These trips have been a benchmark of the 7th and 8th grade experience, and we were excited to get them back up and running after a brief hiatus,” said Middle School Dean of Students Graham Touhey. “They are a bonding experience for the students and a chance for them to engage first-hand with the material they study in class.”
In order to prepare for upcoming lessons on the history of the American government, seventh graders took a one-day walking tour of Philadelphia that visited foundational sites such as the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. The tour set the stage for them to better understand the actual time and place which shaped the conditions and events that created America’s democratic beginnings
Eighth graders went further from campus and stayed away longer (for an overnight!), but their focus was on events closer in time. Organized by Gerber Tours, the students enjoyed a whirlwind two-day tour around Washington, D.C. that included visits to the monuments and in-depth conversations about the constitution and the building of our nation’s capital.
“We had one of the best tour guides I’ve ever seen in Washington, D.C.,” said Mr. Touhey. “While Andrew hailed from Scotland, his passion for American history and storytelling provided our students with a memorable experience in the U.S. Capitol Building.”
In addition to the Capital Hill area, students visited Arlington National Cemetery for a viewing of the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, they explored The National Mall and nearby monuments (Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Vietnam, etc.) lit up at night, and they spent time in the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
“Students read Night by Ellie Wiesel in Eighth Grade English, so the Holocaust Museum is a poignant end to the visit,” Mr. Touhey explained.
By keeping educational objectives and curriculum enhancement at the forefront of the design, the Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., class trips were a representation of experiential learning at its best.
“Not only were our kids so happy to have this opportunity, but they were incredibly respectful as well,” Mr. Touhey said. “Each one took the time to reflect on the importance of the places we were in and their historical significance. All around, it was a really great experience.”
See our gallery of photos from the trip below!