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The Advent fifth grade class took its annual trip to Washington, D.C. last month to explore fascinating museums, historical monuments, the White House, Mt. Vernon, and even the Spy Museum.  It was an exciting four-day whirlwind that started each day with an early buffet breakfast and often ended with a nighttime tour of the monuments or a swim at the hotel.  Most importantly, it gave parents a chance to make amazing memories with their child and other families in the Advent community.  

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This year we returned to some of our favorite points of interest: The White House, Mt. Vernon, The Capitol, the National Museum of American History, the Air and Space Museum, and Arlington National Cemetery.  Some of our students spotted Barron Trump’s soccer goal from a random window in the White House.  They also visited the tombs of George and Martha Washington at Mt. Vernon and played on Washington’s grassy backyard, overlooking the Potomac, while parents rocked on his expansive back porch.  

The group met a representative from Alabama, Gary Palmer, on the steps of the Capitol before heading in for our tour.  We quickly found the two statues from Alabama, Helen Keller and Joseph Wheeler and marveled at the beautiful scenes depicting our American history in the rotunda.  We returned to the National Museum of American History to gaze at Old Glory and catch a glimpse of Dorothy’s slippers.

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From our students’ perspective, the most memorable place that we visit annually is the Spy Museum.  It never fails to intrigue the kids and thoroughly entertain the parents.  Upon entering, students were instructed to assume a fake identity and carry out various missions inside.  Some of students even made black and white videos to create their own spy movie.  They love to crawl through the air ducts and eavesdrop, decode secret messages, explore the James Bond memorabilia, and learn about female spies during the Civil War.   We ended our time on the mall with a trip to the Air and Space museum where students rode in simulators and learned about the evolution of the space race.

The most meaningful experience of the trip was our time at Arlington.  Two Advent students participated in a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier while their classmates watched the changing of the guards.  After our tour of the cemetery, we visited the Caisson Barn to see the horses who carry the caissons during funerals at Arlington.  We fed them apples from our leftover lunches and the guide told us about legendary horses, including Black Jack, the riderless black horse who carried a saddle with boots turned backwards in the stirrups at President Kennedy’s funeral.

We also had an opportunity to experience some “firsts” in D.C.  Our trip started with a tour of the newly constructed National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is full of rich stories about famous African American artists, activists, scholars, educators, athletes, and much more.  The fifth grade members of the Advent choir sang for us at the Lincoln Memorial while onlookers watched in amazement.  We went to Georgetown University to see the campus and eat dinner at the dining hall and had the honor of listening to an Evensong service at the National Cathedral while seated in their choir loft.

To capture their favorite moments from our trip and compile a scrapbook for their parents, each student created a Diary of a D.C. Kid by writing diary entries about his/her memories from each day in D.C. and incorporating his/her favorite photos.  We have many images of fifth grade boys wearing fedoras, aviator caps, and top hats like Abraham Lincoln.  We will be sharing these diaries today (11/14) at the Barnes and Nobles Book fair (at the Summit Birmingham) if you are interested in hearing more details about our days in D.C.

Shannon Cabraja

*To learn more about Advent Episcopal School, please visit our website: http://www.adventepiscopalschool.org