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Portledge in the Now.

Exploring the Capital: Our 8th Grade Journey to Washington D.C.

by Brendan Sullivan, Assistant Director of the Middle School
Experiential learning rests at the centerpiece of the dynamic middle school experience at Portledge. Annually, the 8th-grade class embarks on a field trip to Washington, D.C., where they
explore the nation’s capital, create lifelong memories with their peers, and return home with historical knowledge and an appreciation for this terrific opportunity. 

The 8th-grade students and chaperones jumped on their bus at 6:15 in the morning, and despite the early wakeup, the excitement and energy were palpable, as students could not wait to see what the next few days had in store. Arriving in D.C., students sat for lunch and soon after visited Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Throughout their time in Middle School, the 8th-grade students have heard from guest speakers and veterans on the significance of this site, and one student noted how moving it was to be there in person. The 9/11 memorial also prompted students to engage in discussion, and coming from New York, the children felt connected to the site. 

With a busy schedule of museums and monuments ahead, the 8th grade would break for a sushi and hibachi dinner, where the connection between classmates was evident as smiles and laughs filled the restaurant! In the days following the trip, one student shared that the time spent with their friends outside of the classroom was something they will always cherish and remember. 

On day two of the trip, the group made stops at The National Museum of African American History, the Holocaust Museum, and finished the afternoon with a tour of Capitol Hill. During all of these visits, students listened to the tour guides carefully and asked thoughtful questions. Several students shared how visiting these locations provided them with perspective and a greater understanding of moments in history. The evening was capped off by a ghost and graveyard tour in Alexandria, and the 8th graders were captivated by the storytelling and sightseeing that occurred. 

The final day of the trip was highlighted by a visit to the Spy Museum, where students explored new technologies that help keep us safe and witnessed the many hidden features of the complex digital world that we live in today. On the bus ride home, students sang songs and played games that would lead them back to Portledge to conclude an informative and enjoyable trip to Washington D.C.!
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