Today certainly was filled with a diverse range of experiences and glimpses into the past. The day began with a journey to Mount Vernon, George Washington's historic estate. Many students remarked that this was their favorite stop of the trip so far! We spent some time touring his mansion, viewing perfectly preserved rooms where Washington relaxed and entertained guests like the Marquis de Lafayette. The experience provided a glimpse into the life of a leader that they had spent a lot of time studying in their History classes. We explored the grounds, enjoyed the view of the Potomac, and learned more about Washington's life and accomplishments. We paid our respects at the tombs of Martha and George Washington, as well as the Slave Memorial and unmarked graves of the enslaved people who are buried on the estate. Our students were moved by the efforts of the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association and Black Women United for Action to honor the complicated history of Mount Vernon.
We then made our way to the American History Museum on the National Mall. Students had some free time here to explore exhibits that grabbed their interest. They learned about pivotal events like the Revolutionary War and the Civil Rights Movement, and saw iconic objects from beloved movies and shows. We were all pretty excited to see the original Kermit and Elmo, as well as the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz and R2D2 and C3PO from Star Wars! We gathered back together so that we could all see the original Star-Spangled Banner, the flag that inspired the national anthem.
After lunch, the mood turned somber. This was our time to visit the United States Holocaust Museum. At our own pace, we were confronted with the harrowing stories and exhibits that documented the atrocities committed during the Holocaust. The students learned more about the rise of Nazi Germany and the persecution of Jewish people. We spent some time debriefing the experience in nearby gardens and the sunshine and birdsong was a welcome reprieve. This visit was a wonderful foundation for the indepth Holocaust learning they will continue in 8th grade.
The excitement returned at The International Spy Museum. We immersed ourselves in the world of espionage, learning about the history and techniques of spies through interactive exhibits. They cracked code and tested their surveillance skills. But what the students were MOST excited about was loading up on D.C. swag and souvenirs afterwards. Parents, get ready to see quite a few sweatshirts and bucket hats in their suitcases!
Later that night, we were privileged to hear a powerful presentation at the Pentagon Memorial by Ethan and Sloane. They taught us about what happened on 9/11 and shared some stories of people who lost their lives at that site on that day. Teachers also shared their personal memories of the day. Students walked through the grounds and took in the symbolism of the memorial.
We ended the day celebrating Emma's birthday. Happy birthday, dear Emma! All in all, it was a long, exciting, and emotional day filled with bonding and learning. And it will all continue into Day 4….Check back later for our recap of our last day here in Washington D.C.!