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Whirlwind trip introduces D.C. attractions PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chris Lee   
Wednesday, 20 June 2012 08:27
Nineteen students (two of whom were on crutches) and three chaperones experienced four jam-packed days of the sights and sounds of Washington, D.C. June 4-7.

Holyoke social studies teachers Luke Thomas and Nic Balog led a group of 19 students through the Nation’s Capital as part of Smithsonian Student Tours. The students are all soon to be ninth- and tenth-graders. Holyoke second-grade teacher Allie Billings was the third chaperone for the trip.

Monday, June 4 began around 2 a.m. for the group as they loaded up and traveled to DIA to catch a 7 a.m. flight. Once they hit the ground in D.C., the sightseeing began. They hopped on their bus and were off.

There wasn’t much down time for the group as they had a full schedule of things to see. Thomas said he thought the kids were expecting more down time. He also felt some of them would’ve wanted some more time in the different museums. But with so much to see and only a short time to see it, they crammed everything in.

The Holyoke crew shared a bus with a group from Nebraska as well as a Girl Scout group from Georgia. When they weren’t riding the bus, they were constantly walking to multiple attractions. The walking was particularly difficult for two of the girls who both injured their foot just days before boarding the plane in Denver. They were forced to crutch their way around much of D.C. but there were a few occasions where wheel chairs were made available to make traveling a bit easier.

Holyoke’s group of history students took some time for a photo opportunity in front of the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. The group recently spent four jam-packed days visiting the many attractions in D.C.

One of the highlights of the trip was visiting with Senator Michael Bennet during a Colorado Coffee Meeting. Bennet saw an article in the Holyoke Enterprise announcing the trip and invited the group to his office in the Russell Senate Office Building.

Thomas said another thing the kids seemed to like was the Alexandria, Va. Ghost Tour. He said they were able to see a graveyard where the headstones were all worn out. They were black due to Civil War soldiers starting fires and hunkering down behind them to stay warm and out of the wind.

“The kids kind of enjoyed that ... hearing all of these spooky ghost stories,” Thomas said.

When the group visited the Capitol Building, they noticed security seemed to be much higher than at other stops on their trip. It didn’t take long for them to find out that Vice President Joe Biden was at the Capitol the same time they were.

Another highlight was seeing the giant flag of the War of 1812. Thomas said some of the students asked about the flag before ever arriving, hoping it was on their agenda.

Some of the places the group visited were the Air and Space Museum, Union Station, Arlington National Cemetery, WWII, Vietnam and Lincoln memorials, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Iwo Jima memorials, White House photo opportunity, Mount Vernon, National Archives, Supreme Court of the U.S. and Library of Congress, Ford’s Theatre, Smithsonian and United States Capitol Building.

Students participating in the trip were eighth-graders Dennis Amaya, Roni Beavers, Makenna Bishop, Bradley Cumming, Dominic Krogmeier, Josilyn Lutze, Lori McWilliams and Scott Osborne.

Eighth-grader Sydney Schleich of Platte Valley High School (sister of chaperone Allie Billings) also traveled with the group.

Ninth-graders were Jentry Andersen, Troy Brown, Tito Fierro, T.J. Gertner, Kaylee Ham, Dylan Kotch, Nathan Miles, Nicholas Ortner and Megan Vieselmeyer.

Thomas said the group had a great time visiting the Nation’s Capital. He said he is interested in organizing another trip in the coming years. The motivated history teacher hasn’t thrown the idea of an overseas trip out the window either.

Holyoke Enterprise June 21, 2012