Tag Archives: student tours washington dc

Living History Makes Student Travel to Washington DC and Williamsburg Memorable

By Howard Clemens

Watching history come alive can be a great way to engage student travel groups when visiting the Washington D.C. area. Living history programs are character reenactments from Revolutionary, Colonial and Civil War eras of American history. Attending one will give historically accurate information garnered directly from texts. Living history programs challenge students to take a deeper look at the characters that created the historical accounts read in the classroom today.

Mount Vernon, a Treasure of American History, Inhabited by Characters
What sorts of characters become known throughout time? Leaders do. Mount Vernon is a well-preserved site of one of the favorite founding fathers, George Washington and his second wife, Mary. The Mount Vernon property is teeming with life. Also known as Ferry Farm, this estate is populated with many of the characters of living history, including the proprietors, George and Mary Washington themselves. Students can inhabit different parts of the estate and be exposed to different viewpoints, from viewing slave quarters, to the working farm and mill, to the interior of Mount Vernon itself.

Recreating Mount Vernon as a Working Colonial Estate
Today, students might refer to a property like Mount Vernon as ‘sustainable living.’ Everything needed to feed, clothe and house the many inhabitants and visitors of the estate was cultivated here. A tour of Mount Vernon that includes living history presentations could easily take half a day. Students groups will watch and listen as re-enactors make wool and refine locally grown flax into fiber and show how horses treading wheat to remove seeds. Student tour groups can listen in to a conversation of the overseer, the blacksmith, or George Washington himself. Living history makes learning more interactive and gives students an entirely new perspective of history.

Social Studies and history teachers may want to combine a tour of Washington D.C. and Mount Vernon with a few days in Williamsburg, Virginia. Give student groups the opportunity for total immersion in the 18th Century time period while they tour the former capital of Virginia with Living History around every corner.

The 18th Century Capital of the Colonies: Williamsburg, VA
Colonial Williamsburg is the largest living history museum in the world. In the 1920s, John D. Rockefeller invested in the languishing historical buildings in Williamsburg. He hired the best artisans and restoration experts to rebuild the town correctly. Today, the former 18th Century capital of Virginia is the perfect setting for students to experience living history.

Imagine walking the streets of Williamsburg and being immersed into the 18th Century style of living. Students will see many of Colonial Williamsburg’s character actors passing in the cobblestone streets in 18th Century garb. The old buildings all look the same as they did then – made of red brick and mortar. The shops include a blacksmith, candle maker, and a silversmith, among others. Inside some of the Colonial homes, the servants are busy with everyday tasks. Students will watch and listen and may ask questions. As they walk through, they will see servants working in the gardens or kitchens of an authentic Colonial home, clothed in the garb of the 18th Century and using implements and foods harvested there and common in that era.

For another type of interactive experience, group leaders may opt to prearrange a lunch or dinner at an authentic tavern in Colonial Williamsburg.

Each of the characters encountered on the streets of Williamsburg speaks in Colonial tongue and has a story to tell about their place in time. The Court House and the Armory have been restored to their former character.

Student groups may watch living history programs in the courthouse specially designed for learning about Colonial law in Virginia, through the eyes of those who were judged. Or, take a student group on an evening tour of the “Ghosts Among Us” or “Pirates Amongst Us” to stimulate their imagination and recollection of the way history unfolded for some.

Jamestown Settlement
Students will love visiting Jamestown Settlement – another full immersion into the 17th Century. Just down the road from Colonial Williamsburg, situated on the James River, is where the first colonists landed in 1607. Board the replicas of the three ships, see a Powhatan village as it was in the 17th Century, and enter the replica of James Fort, the original home of new settlers in this country. Students will hear character actors speak from a variety of perspectives, including: common sailors, maids, Indians, and even the King James I.

Learning about history through books and film can be a great foundation for a student trip to Washington D.C. and Williamsburg. Living history programs provide a more intense and focused investigation into history, one that engages the student and makes a definite mark upon memory. After experiencing the characters of history the memory is attached to a real place.

“The willing suspension of disbelief” is required for a full (and fun) immersion into Early American history. The character actors do an excellent job of bringing all of the props, setting and the stories to life. Teachers can augment the experiential learning by assigning follow-up writing exercises or creating quizzes for students to observe and answer questions while on tour.

For more information about a living history tour of Washington D.C., Mount Vernon and Williamsburg, request a quote.

Smithsonian National Museum of African Art: New Eyes on the Old World

national-museum-african-artby Howard Clemens

Visit one of the most popular museums in Washington DC and provide for your students a window into the cradle of civilization. First Lady Michelle Obama recently said, “Learning through the arts reinforces critical academic skills . . . and provides students with the skills to creatively solve problems.”

Take student travel groups on docent-led tours of the permanent and visiting and traveling exhibitions, or let them hook into an audio device and tour on their own. The museum website has easy access forms to plan your visit for both tours and museum staff-led workshops. Specific tours – such as the Jambo tour – will be tailored to elementary, junior high or high school curricular needs.

Permanent Exhibits at the National Museum of African Art in D.C.
The National Museum of African Art is often missed by student groups visiting Washington D.C., yet it contains one of the most staggering collections of African art on display in the world. Touring the museum will complement many types of African studies in literature, the arts, politics, and more. This museum is an excellent way to incorporate diversity into any student tour of Washington D.C. and just about any curriculum.

Extensive African Photographs Available for Viewing by Student Groups
At the Museum, student travel groups will find over 350,000 items on display in the Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, and that’s just one small portion of the Museum. Here students may also become familiar with the large number of African mosaics on display as well as rare sub-Saharan art on permanent loan from the Walt Disney-Tishman collection. In 2005 the Disney Foundation gave the museum 525 pieces of African art that includes a beautiful 19th century female figure carved from ivory. Since the 1960’s, this particular collection has greatly influenced the study of African art.

Artistic Dialogues Between African and African Diaspora in America
Also on display until January of 2016 is the Conversations exhibit where African art and artists are in conversation with African American art and artists. These contributions help celebrate the museum’s 50th anniversary, providing fruitful dialogue between Africa and the African diaspora. A few of the topics as part of the Conversations exhibit include “Spirituality, Power and Politics, Nature as Metaphor, and the popular Music and Urban Culture.”

Special Exhibitions
There is a special exhibition for the museum’s anniversary called “Connecting the Gems of the Indian Ocean.” The dance and music of the Omani people from East Africa are celebrated. The Al Najoom Dance Troupe is one of the most talented dance groups of Oman and they have been performing for over fifteen years, telling audiences the rich history of their culture through movement and sound. The dances they share are used for religious ceremony as well as everyday life.

Maya Angelou’s Legacy is Celebrated by Museum
The Smithsonian’s mission statement is, “To inspire conversations about the beauty, power, and diversity of African arts and culture worldwide.” The recent death of African American poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou has been on the minds of museum curators and staff. Not long before her death the poet had a public conversation with the museum director Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole. You can view that conversation online at this link: http://youtu.be/e8S-mNq3ypg

Online Resources for Student Tour Leaders Preparing to Go to D.C.
Students and faculty can enjoy glimpses at the permanent collection and peek at upcoming traveling exhibitions online at this link: http://africa.si.edu. At the bottom right corner of the Home Page look for the “Radio Africa” link. Students can listen to this 24-hour radio program curated by the museum staff, sampling music from every corner of the African continent. Contact a student travel professional to arrange student group docent-led tours, or signup the class for workshops like the quilt collage workshop. There are also online galleries of student artwork made in the museum workshops or back at home in the classroom after returning from the museum tour.

The National Museum of African Art originally opened its doors with the help of Warren Robbins in June of 1964 in a townhouse that was the home of abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Today it stands a world-class museum with visitors from every corner of the globe, helping place Africa at the center of conversation on the origins of humanity. On display until September, 2015 is a commemorative exhibition: Chief S.O. Alonge: Photographer to the Royal Court of Benin, Nigeria. These historic photographs did a marvelous job documenting the rituals and regalia of the court for more than fifty years, and provide a historical record of studio photography in West Africa. There has never been a better time to bring the class to the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.

For more information on creating a student travel itinerary of Washington D.C. that includes a visit to the National Museum of African Art, visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Student Tours of the Pentagon and the 911 Pentagon Memorial in DC

Many student travel groups heading to New York City will visit the new 911 Memorial and Museum.  This phenomenal new National 9/11 Memorial is open to the public now and will be visited by many.

student travel washington dcDid you know there is also a National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in Washington D.C.?  The memorial marks the site of the crash of American Airlines Flight 77. The large-scale outdoor memorial illustrates each person’s life with a line that begins with a birth year and ends on September 11, 2001. Prior to seeing the actual memorial, student groups will pass through the Memorial Gateway, where visitors will learn more about the Pentagon, and have time for reflection.

A Brief History of Pentagon’s Damage on 911
On September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the west side of the Pentagon, after being hijacked by five terrorists. All on board Flight 77 died that day and so did nearly one hundred employees of the Pentagon, for a total of 184 people.  This section of the building was demolished and reconstructed. The building was created with safer construction features (such as walls and windows that can withstand blasts), and the new design deliberately excludes the escalator that used to connect the Pentagon to the Metro station.

911 Memorial Description
The exact position of the memorial is at the point of the plane’s impact that day, and there is even a black stone in the new foundation of the Pentagon, pulled from the demolition, that is inscribed with the date.  Each life lost is marked with the year the person was born, with a line extending out towards September 11, 2001.  Each memorial culminates in a bench made from marble and stainless steel and is inscribed with the person’s name. The National 911 Memorial at the Pentagon was dedicated in a public ceremony that included the families and loved ones of survivors in 2008, making it the first of the three national memorial sites (including New York City, World Trade Center and Shanksville, Pennsylvania) to be open to the public.

The 911 Memorial at the Pentagon is one aspect of the student trip to the Pentagon.  Provided there is enough advance planning, student tour groups headed to the Washington D.C. area can visit parts of the Pentagon that are accessible to the public and learn more about the military’s rich history and role in maintaining a democratic nation.

Is the Pentagon Accessible for Student Tour Groups?
In the post-911 era, procedures and rules when visiting a government building have changed. Despite heightened concerns about security, the Pentagon has done an excellent job of keeping the building open to student group tours. The tour guides at the Pentagon are staff members assigned the duty of conducting tours for a one-year period. Approximately 50 Pentagon employees are assigned the duty of taking students and other types of tour groups throughout this huge facility, and they are imminently qualified to do so.

Student Trips to Washington D.C. Consider Touring the Pentagon
In this age of technological and traditional warfare, the largest military installation in the U.S. is heavily guarded and has special rules for those who attend the 90-minute tours.  These tours offer a thorough overview of all branches of the military and a history of commemorative battles fought, so they are well worth it from an educational point of view.  For the ROTC student, and for the student thinking of enlisting in the military, a tour of the Pentagon will be fascinating.  These students will certainly learn more about the history and battles of their chosen branch of the military.

However, if all procedures are not honored by the entire student travel group, students will not be allowed to participate in the Pentagon tour. Just over 100,000 people toured the Pentagon last year, so it is certainly a privilege.  Tours can be booked 14-90 days in advance. Trip leaders and teachers need to let a qualified student travel company know of a student group’s intentions to take the Pentagon tour in the planning stages of trip to Washington D.C.

Student Travelers Must Follow Procedures for Pentagon Tour
Students cannot carry backpacks or camera bags, and pocketbooks will be subject to search.  Electronic devices of any kind are not permitted on tour – including cell phones and smartphones. No food or beverages or tobacco products are allowed on tour, nor are weapons or sharp objects that could be used as weapons permitted. All students on the Pentagon tour must have photo identification to be presented prior to beginning the tour.  Making sure each high school student has a proper identification, whether they hold a driver’s license or not, is a detail that needs to be confirmed before students board busses or planes for trips to Washington D.C.  It is important that Pentagon staff have an accurate record of persons entering and leaving the building.

The most challenging guidelines for today’s tech savvy high school student to observe will be the surrender of cell phones and other electronic devices. This informative tour will include nearly a mile and a half of walking. The immense size of the Pentagon and its history are sure to impress many students.

What Student Groups Can Learn from a Visit to the Pentagon
Because it houses leadership of the national defense, the Pentagon is a building that has airs of secrecy and mystery about it. Prior to an actual visit, it is likely many students’ opinions about the Pentagon may have been formed from watching television and movies.

Hollywood’s portrayals of Pentagon activities do not always reflect reality. Nor do fictional images of the Pentagon show the initiative, knowledge and skills behind the nearly 23,000 civilian and military employees who work at this complex everyday. Pentagon staff performs an array of duties that are integral to our nation’s defense.  By attending a Pentagon Tour, students will come away with more knowledge about warfare, and the way in which U.S. soldiers have distinguished themselves throughout history.  After a visit, student’s viewpoint of the Pentagon will be more accurate.

To schedule a student trip to Washington D.C. that includes a tour of the Pentagon, visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Washington Monument Reopens After Nearly Three Years of Closure

Washington Monument reopened in May 2014.  The NPS is offering extended hours (until 10 p.m.) for visitors who want to take the elevator to the observation deck.
The Washington Monument reopened in May 2014. The NPS is offering extended hours (until 10 p.m.) for visitors who want to take the elevator to the observation deck.

 

The Washington Monument in Washington D.C. has always been a favorite for student travel groups heading to the D.C. area.  The obelisk has graced the nation’s capital since the 19th Century – until it was struck by an earthquake on August 22, 2011.  Although people were inside and falling debris and stone did affect some visitors, thankfully no staff or tourists were seriously injured or died while visiting the Monument that day.

The Earthquake of August 2011 Damaged Washington Monument
The Washington Monument sustained a great deal of damage from the earthquake. The quake was nearly a 6 on the Richter Scale, with an epicenter 90 miles southwest of D.C., in Virginia. Damages included “cracks, spalls and displacements of stones and joints throughout the building,” according the National Park Service website.  The Washington Monument had to be closed to visitors in the interest of public safety.

Repair to the Washington Monument has taken nearly three years of labor to aright this structure and make it suitable for visitation.  Stones with fissures had to be repaired one by one, and laborers logged over one thousand days of work on the structure.

The Washington Monument re-opened May 12, 2014 with a public ceremony, just in time for the late spring and summer travel season.  Trip leaders taking student tours to Washington D.C. may now add a visit to the Washington Monument to their itinerary.

Short History of the Washington Monument
Built to honor the memory of George Washington, first president, this monument was constructed in two phases: 1848-1854 and 1876-1884. The architect was Robert Mills – and his vision was to place the enormous monument (which would be the tallest in the world at that time) in the center of the green with nothing overshadowing it.  Though he originally planned on a 600-foot structure, the actual height was 555 feet, 5.125 inches. It remained the tallest building until the Eiffel Tower overshadowed it.

Lt. Col. Casey supervised the latter stages of construction and he revised the height of the structure so the foundational base was strong enough to support it. It is created from the stones of three different quarries:  two in Baltimore and one in Massachusetts.  Different color stones are noticeable on the Monument. The Army Corps of Engineers completed construction on December 6, 1884 and the Monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885, during James J. Polk’s presidency.

Student Travelers Can Tour the Washington Monument Again
New exhibits have opened at the Washington Monument, with more opportunities for learning than ever before.   For guided student group tours, teachers and trip leaders are best advised to book tickets well in advance with the assistance of a qualified student travel company.  On tour, a ranger will discuss some historical facts for groups as they take the elevator up. Then they will spend some time on the observation deck for a few minutes and descend to the 490’ foot level to view the exhibits.  Students re-board the elevator at the 490’ level and while the elevator takes them back down, the ranger will once again point out details about the Monument’s construction and history.

For any student of American history, a visit to Washington D.C. and the Washington Monument is a must.  Students learn more about George Washington and one of the most awe-inspiring monuments constructed in the world.  Visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com to find out more about student trips to Washington D.C.

National Museum of American History Perfect for Social Studies and History Students

The National Museum of American History is part of the Smithsonian and is a great place for student groups to learn more about American history.

For social studies and history students, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History is a place for learning about any era of U.S. History. The ongoing exhibits are numerous and tackle larger topics such as:  The American Presidency:  A Glorious Burden, America on the Move, and American Heroes.  Some exhibits focus on a specific period in American History, such as Changing America: The Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963.

The artifact walls are rotating exhibits that highlight great American achievements in the arts, science, social and political organizations and more.  The quintessential American experience is explored in this museum, filled with interactive exhibits that student travelers enjoy, engaging them more deeply in the study of history.

There are even online exhibitions, such as Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life, that coincide nicely with a study of the Civil War. These online exhibits can be used by teachers to prepare for student tours of Washington D.C. in advance and to augment classroom studies.

For teachers interested in taking a class trip to the National Museum of American History, there are many options to choose from. I will suggest visits to some of the ongoing exhibits. Teachers and trip leaders should also check the National Museum of American History’s website to see which Artifact Walls exhibitions will be on view.   The Artifact Walls series are rotating and cover many topics that may be of interest to student groups.

Students of social studies and history may be studying just one era of history. Most likely, their examination of American history will span long periods of time, such as the Colonial Era, Early American History, the Revolutionary War and Civil War.  Others may be examining the early 20th Century, World War I & World War II and Social and Political Revolutions of the 1960s and 70s.   Modern American history is also of interest to many students. Groups will find it all at this museum.

Some ongoing exhibits students will benefit from include:  The American Presidency:  A Glorious Burden. With artifacts and personal items from 43 presidents in the collection there are sure to be interesting things to learn. Teachers may elect to focus on one or several presidents who governed during the historical period being studied.

Another exhibit that may be of interest to students studying the expansion and development of the American frontier is Conestoga Wagon and Hand-Pumped Fire Engine. Wagons were a necessary component of the American pioneer’s lifestyle and livelihood, enabling them to carry people and goods long distances.  The hand-pumped fire engine was also a necessity. Many were designed for use in urban areas where fires could spread to whole neighborhoods.

Lighting a Revolution is another exhibit that may be of interest to student travelers. Edison’s light bulb changed the everyday life of Americans forever, helping to introduce the use of electric lighting instead of gas or candles and electric appliances and other inventions to the free market.

The Price of Freedom, Americans at War is an exhibit that will enhance studies of many wars from the Revolutionary War period to the present day.  The use of personal narratives to tell the stories of American history is a common educational tool used in these exhibits that has the effect of bringing history closer.

Souvenir Nation:  Relics, Keepsakes and Curios is an ongoing exhibit at the Smithsonian Castle, where students can also have a snack or drink at the café and use the free wifi available.  Trip leaders may want to schedule a morning or afternoon at the National Museum of American History to have time to take it all in.

Request a quote for a history or social studies student trips to Washington, D.C.

A New Student Travel Site in DC: Capital Ferris Wheel Set to Open this Spring

National Harbor will have a 175 foot observation wheel opening in May 2014.

Student travel groups with a destination of Washington D.C. will want to spend some time at The National Harbor (NH).  It’s located on the shores of Prince George County, Maryland, just across the Potomac River from Washington D.C.

The National Harbor encompasses a stretch of shoreline with magnificent views of Washington D.C. and the many famous structures that dot the skyline of the nation’s capital. National Harbor visitors will have a new treat when they come in the spring of 2014: The Capital Ferris Wheel. Get ready for a ride on an observation wheel that is 175 feet above the Potomac River, providing phenomenal views of downtown Washington D.C. and the surrounding area.

The Capital Wheel

This project is a small piece of the National Harbor as a whole, which offers hotels, shopping, dining and entertainment for visitors.  While student tour groups may enjoy these activities, some groups may have limited time to further explore the National Harbor – but trip leaders will still want to schedule a ride on the Capital Ferris Wheel.

The Capital Ferris Wheel is slated for completion in May, 2014 and will be a great attraction to enhance National Harbor. Initially, developers wanted to build a Disney theme park and resort at National Harbor, but this deal fell through.

Now MGM will be building a casino at National Harbor instead, a decision that has left many unhappy.   Student travelers and educational travel companies would have benefitted more from a Disney resort than a casino.  Yet the harbor itself and the views of D.C. the Capital Wheel provides are reason enough to visit.

Representatives of the maker of the Capital Wheel, Chance Rides, call it an observation wheel, not a ferris wheel, making an important distinction.  Rather than a carnival ride, the Capital Wheel is designed for those who want a long, slow look at landmarks with a bird’s eye view of the Washington D.C. skyline.  Each ride allows for two revolutions around the Capital Wheel. Riders see views of the Washington Monument, U.S. Capital, the Pentagon, Alexandria, Virginia and Prince George’s County, Maryland.

There are other world-class cities that have observation wheels and these have proven to have great appeal for the public. The idea is to see iconic landmarks in cities like Washington D.C. from a high vantage point.  Other cities with wheels include, Seattle, Washington and London, England, among others. The London Eye reaches heights of over 400 feet and surely bedazzles visitors.

Up to eight people can be seated in each of the 42 climate controlled gondolas and it can be used year round. Students can ride it anytime between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., making it convenient to complementary activities in Northern Virginia, such as a visit to Arlington National Cemetery and/or Mount Vernon.

On a pleasant spring or fall day, student travel groups will love a visit to the Potomac River waterfront, strolling along the docks of the National Harbor Marina. If there is time for the student tour group, perhaps they can enjoy a lunch or dinner at one of the fine restaurants in National Harbor, too. If time permits, groups may take water taxi rides or even add a sightseeing cruise on the Potomac River to their itinerary. Whatever the plan when visiting National Harbor, consult an educational travel company. Their experts will help to coordinate the trip with visits to many of the other rich historical and cultural sites to visit in the Washington D.C. area.

Visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com for more information about student trips to Washington D.C. that include a stop at the National Harbor.

Smithsonian Will Open National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall

by Howard Clemens

The new National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) will open on the National Mall in D.C. in 2015

A new National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), a branch of the Smithsonian, is under construction in a prominent location near the Washington Monument in Washington D.C.

Doors of the new museum are scheduled to open in 2015. Until then, school groups on trips to D.C. can see the “Changing America” exhibition across the street at the National Museum of American History. This new exhibit looks at the century of hard work between the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and the 1963 March on Washington. Students studying the anti slavery and civil rights movements will find this directly related to their curriculum. A short visit to this exhibit will be a great way to learn about some of the people and events that defined these eras in American history.

Architects Philip Freelon and David Adjaye are seeing their dream building come together right on the Mall in Washington D.C. There have been generous donations from many groups and individuals, including Oprah Winfrey – who recently gave the NMAAHC a much-needed twelve million dollar donation for their museum construction project. This will be an institution dedicated to helping all Americans see the great importance of African American history to the nation as a whole. Equally as important, the NMAAHC will make clear how the stories and histories of African Americans helped shape the struggles for freedom around the world.

The NMAAHC website has detailed information about the progress of the construction of the NMAAHC with several short documentary films, one of which shows a 3D digital model of the proposed final structure.

An interior rendition of the NMAAHC when it opens in 2015.

The NMAAHC project is innovative because of its approach to using the Web to gather archival material. Students and teachers can check the website for information on how to help preserve African American artifacts, from furniture to personal items to books. There are programs available for preserving photographs, paper documents, and also clothing and textiles. In the classroom, students can view video interviews with such prominent African American citizens as United States District Court judge Matthew J. Perry Jr. and Lawrence Guyot.

For those student travel groups and group leaders who are curious to see the project unfolding, The NMAAHC website has a construction camera with an ongoing series of snapshots of up-to-date footage of the Museum’s construction. The Washington Monument is right next door to the site of the future NMAAHC – within walking distance.

Students interested in pursuing a career in Museum work may want to explore the many internship jobs available with the NMAAHC. There are currently internship projects with the cataloging department, the collection preservation department, as well as curatorial, education and exhibition display. Students in the classroom can also be part of bringing together the many facets of this museum by helping to find and catalogue archival materials.

Some of the highlights of the museum include historical documents such as texts and photos and even implements such as shackles used during the dark age of American slavery. There are galleries also devoted to music and performing arts, as well as visual art by and about African Americans including the Harlem Renaissance through the civil rights movement of the 1960s, as well as contemporary African American artists of today.

The website gives visitors insight into upcoming exhibits for the NMAAHC. Samples of the Black Fashion Museum Collection, originally founded in 1979 by Lois K. Alexander Lane are available on the website. This collection includes bonnets worn by slaves as well as opera capes. There are also beautiful gowns made by African American fashion designer Ann Lowe, whose patrons included the Vanderbilts, the Rockefellers, the Duponts, and also former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

Students studying slavery in the United States will also be interested in viewing the Harriet Tubman Collection, dedicated to the magnificent dedication of the woman who herself ran away from slavery as a young girl in the early 1800s. There are nearly 100 artifacts belonging to Harriet Tubman that will be on display, and some of those are currently shown in photographs on the NMAAHC website. Tubman’s fearless hard work on the Underground Railroad changed the lives of hundreds of people. She and others help make this one of the most extraordinary museum experiences on the Mall in Washington D.C.

Student trips headed to Washington D.C. will definitely want to plan a visit to the website prior to their visit – and schedule an actual visit to the museum itself in 2015. In the meantime, seeing the National Museum of American History “Changing America” exhibit is highly recommended. Learn more about black history tours of Atlanta, Baltimore and Washington D.C. These student tours are designed to create a broader understanding of the history of slavery, emancipation and civil rights in the United States.

Learn more about black history tours of Washington D.C., designed for students studying the anti-slavery movement of the 19th Century and the Civil Rights movement of the 20th Century.

Educational Travel Consultants Expands Staff, Celebrates 30 Years in Business

(Hendersonville, NC)  Educational Travel Consultants (ETC) celebrates its 30th year in the student travel business. ETC was founded by Howard and Cheryl Clemens, now deceased. Their daughters, Tiffany and Kristen Clemens, are assuming management roles in the company this year, with their father, Howard Clemens, as CEO.  “I’m pleased Tiffany and Kristen are as committed to this company as I am,” remarked Howard Clemens.  “We’ve been organizing student trips to Washington D.C. and other locations since they were children, so they have plenty of experience.  Their mother was a real motivating force in getting them involved in running the company.”

Tiffany Clemens graduated from the University of Texas Brownsville with a Bachelors degree in International Business. She speaks Spanish and is working on a Certificate from New York University in Spanish to English translation. Tiffany Clemens has worked for ETC since 2002 and she is the General Manager.

Kristen Clemens has a background in education. Her previous positions were at the Love and Learning Pre-School and Telamond Migrant Headstart. At Telamond, she used her fluency in Spanish to work with a Hispanic student population.  Kristen Clemens is Educational Travel Coordinator for K-12 school trips.

ETC began by serving the Washington D.C., New York City and Orlando student travel markets in 1983, with informative educational tours for K-12 groups at affordable prices with no hidden charges or fees.

As the company evolved, student tours of Philadelphia, Boston, New York City, Williamsburg and Gettysburg were added to the roster as well as other major U.S. cities and some Canadian and Mexican destinations.

ETC became popular with educators who coordinated trips with the company each year.  ETC founders and staff started to formulate specific tours geared towards areas of study such as history, science, performance and other types of class trips. Staff accommodated teachers by designing custom school trips to focus on special areas of study.  The professionalism ETC staff demonstrates has enabled the company to retain loyal teachers and student travelers for decades.

Over the past three decades, ETC established a solid name as a student tour company to be relied upon to keep prices for individual students low enough for the maximum number of students to attend their class trips.  Visit the website to learn more about Educational Travel Consultants or email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com.

The 150th Anniversary of Gettysburg Student Tour Includes Travel to Washington D.C.

By Howard Clemens

Gettysburg celebrates the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War battle.

The 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg is coming up this year.  This occasion gives student travel groups a rare opportunity to gain insight into one of the Civil War’s most pivotal events.

Because of the proximity of both places, student trips to Washington D.C. often include tours of Gettysburg. Both excursions offer multiple opportunities for interactive learning.

The Gettysburg battlefield, located in the quaint, picturesque town of the same name, has many events planned for the anniversary. The crowd turn out for the celebrations is expected to be huge, and student travel groups from all over the world are expected to see Gettysburg during the 150th Anniversary celebration.

Special events that are part of the festivities are slated to run through most of the year—from April all the way through November.  Students can experience the Gettysburg Diorama, which is the U.S.’s biggest and most detailed military diorama. Diorama shows run daily, and detail the three days of Gettysburg battle in a fully-narrated light and sound show.

On November 19, 2013 there will be an official ceremony at the Soldier’s National Monument, featuring the US Marine Corps band and a keynote speaker, to be announced. A past keynote speaker was Stephen Spielberg. If student tour schedules can be adapted to include Gettysburg events, a wider range of travel and learning experiences will be available to students and teachers.

Gettysburg 150th Anniversary Lineup Offers Many Creative, Interactive Activities for Students

Students can experience Living History Weekends on the Gettysburg battlefield, which start in April and continue through the end of October. This series includes evening storytelling by the campfire, historical reenactments, and other exciting educational events. The Gettysburg Preservation Walk, a fully narrated, 45 minute guided tour around the battlefield, can help students glean a greater understanding of what living in the time of the Civil War must have been like. A variety of parades, complete with fireworks and full regalia, will also take place regularly throughout 2013.

Students can experience Civil War Lecture Dinner Cruises, or all-day events like the Encounter with History Seminar Series. The Civil War Heritage Foundation offers a Living History Encampment Series, where, according to their website, students will be “welcome to actively learn by strolling through the camp, viewing drills and demonstrations, and engaging in conversation with historians.”

More information about 150th Anniversary events can be found by visiting the Gettysburg Convention and Visitor’s Bureau website or the National Park Service’s website.

Gettysburg and Washington DC Offer Diverse Educational Travel Experiences for Student Travel Groups

The road from Gettysburg to Washington D.C. encompasses American history along the way. In Washington D.C., travel groups can visit Ford’s Theater, site of President Lincoln’s assassination, and the nearby Peterson House, where he died. Both places can offer profound insights to students, and increase their knowledge of the personal and national impact of the Civil War. Students can also visit the Lincoln Cottage, where Lincoln created the Emancipation Proclamation. The cottage is also notable as “bookending” the Civil War because Lincoln first visited it three days prior to his inauguration and last visited it on the day before he was assassinated. And, as ever, there are many other activities for student tour groups visiting the Washington D.C. area, like strolling through the Botanical Gardens, visiting Georgetown, or taking one of the many cruises the city offers, like the famous Cherry Blossom Cruise (great for groups traveling in the springtime) or the Spirit of Washington cruise.

Gettysburg’s 150th anniversary is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students to engage in active learning experiences and studies about the Civil War. Student travel group leaders who choose to create tours of both locations give their students a wider lens to view the Civil War and its implications.  Student groups traveling to Gettysburg for the 150th Anniversary will remember this point in contemporary history as they reflect upon the past.

For more information on student tours of Gettysburg and Washington D.C., visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Student Travel Groups Heading to Washington D.C.: What’s New?

For teachers seeking to provide their students with an invigorating, immersive, and comprehensive exposure to art, culture, history, and just about anything else, Washington D.C. is the place to be.  A student trip to Washington D.C. is one of the gold standards of educational travel. Student travel groups have a range of famous landmarks at their fingertips, from Ford’s Theater to Arlington National Cemetery to the Library of Congress to the quaint hustle and bustle of Georgetown. There is something for everyone in this great city, and its liveliness makes for a one-of-a-kind experience that makes learning fun, exciting, and revelatory.

For students studying history, the city is nothing short of an invaluable resource.  Seeing everything could take weeks. For student tour groups on limited schedules, a focused itinerary for a three or four day tour works best.

The list of sites to see is growing now that Washington D.C. has added some new war memorials, a site dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and a branch of the Smithsonian that focuses on African American History. Students who visit these places will gain a broader understanding of American history.

The World War II Memorial, on 17th Street between Constitution and Independence Avenues, is surrounded by the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, and combines beautiful architecture with many moving testaments to those who participated in one of the 20th century’s greatest epochs. At the crossroads of these three great attractions, students will get an acute and unforgettable sense of the nation’s past. Featuring the famous “Rainbow Pool” and an its mingling fountains, the memorial is open from 9 am until 11:45 pm, and the National Park Service provides guided tours every hour, on the hour, from 10 am -11pm. Teachers can search the computerized World War II registry for information, and use the material to prepare students for this trip with advance lessons in the classroom.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, at 1964 Independence Avenue on the National Mall is a special address because the street number refers to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The MLK Memorial is a highly unique structure designed, like all of Washington’s memorials, to draw the spectator into a uniquely “hands-on” historical experience. Students can stroll the grounds, which are flanked by an abundance of cherry blossom trees and crepe myrtles, and read stone-etched inscriptions from the “I Have a Dream” speech.  The statue of Dr King itself, as massive and awe-inspiring as the Lincoln Memorial, is almost Egyptian/Sphinxlike in scope.  Visiting this new memorial to an American dedicated to the advancement of civil rights is a must for any group studying African American history and its historical and contemporary impact on the world we live in.

On the same topic, the Smithsonian Museum of African Natural History just had its groundbreaking ceremony in February of 2012, and is scheduled to officially open in 2013. The Museum of African Natural History has exhibits that are presently housed on the second floor of the National Museum of American History. From their current exhibition, “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty” to their upcoming show, ”The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963” (slated to debut in December 2012), the Museum provides a comprehensive and essential overview of African American life down through the generations, from music to sports to arts and politics. Many have been anticipating the opening of this new Smithsonian Museum where African American culture and tradition is highlighted.

Like New York City, Washington D.C. is a city that can be regarded as one of “the crossroads of the world.” There is no end to the varieties of experiences here, whether a student group is touring its many ethnic neighborhoods, dining at a variety of wonderful restaurants, touring the museums, memorials or the Capital and White House, or just steeping themselves in its atmosphere and energy in general. Teachers and student groups have loved the U.S. Capital city for all of its history, government, culture, dining and entertainment and it’s splendid architecture and memorials.

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