Tag Archives: student trips washington dc

Students Trips to D.C. Include a Visit to Holocaust Museum: Conversations with Holocaust Survivors

by Howard Clemens

Student tours of Washington D.C. often include a visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. A visit to the Museum can be an eye opening experience for students of this generation, who did not live through the war, and were not raised by parents that fought or participated in World War II.

Many of the popular Hollywood films about the holocaust focus on the experience of the Jewish population in Germany. However, the Jewish population throughout Europe was deeply affected by anti-Semitism and genocide. As the war progressed, the Nazis came to invade many different European countries and round up Jewish people for extermination at the camps in Germany.

The First Person Podcast Series by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is a wonderful resource for teachers who want to introduce students to the individual stories of holocaust survivors. It is also a great way to prepare them for a class trip to Washington D.C. that includes a stop to at the Museum on the itinerary.

Visit the U.S.Holocaust Memorial Museum and select the menu ‘Survivors and Victims.’ Page down and peruse the selections of audio podcasts available for online listening.

Genocide of the Jewish Population in Europe in the 1940s
These first person accounts of war and its consequences to families and whole populations will be an awakening for many students. Students may be familiar with the major battles of World War II and the politics of the war. However, these are personal accounts of intimidation, fear and hiding. Jewish people had to disguise their true identities and survive in a small amount of space – or go from house to house. Separation of husbands and wives and mothers and children was all too common.

These stories will leave students spellbound – and should be digested slowly. Post-listening exercises are recommended so students can fully integrate. A visit to the Museum will also assist in learning more.

The Nazi Resistance in Europe
There are also important details about those who courageously resisted Nazi control and aided those who were fleeing. Many of these allies were non-Jewish and taking a huge chance by hiding those who were. Listening to these Survivor Stories adds a whole new dimension to students’ knowledge and learning about the holocaust of World War II.

Each story has its own unique description of the challenge of a Jewish adult or child leaving war torn Europe. With the German army crossing through many war torn territories, this is quite a challenge and took a great deal of courage for the many who aided those who sought refuge elsewhere.

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising: Nazi’s Stalled
One highlight of the First Person Podcast Series includes the story of Estelle Laughlin: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. In Poland, some of the fiercest resistance to a Nazi takeover came from an ill- supplied but prepared group of urban fighters. The resistance movement in the Warsaw Ghettos helped families to build secret bunkers before the Germans arrived. While war raged in the streets of
Warsaw families hid in bunkers to survive. This actually saved quite a few families, who were spirited away during lulls in this urban war. Laughlin’s story of resistance and escape is compelling, mostly because she was just a child.

Romania: Hiding from a Pogrom in Iasi
Heim Solomon’s story explains what the word ‘Pogrom’ means. After the Germans invaded the Soviet Union on June 21, 1941, the Romanian Jewish population came under the authority of the Germans. The Nazis pressed upon the authorities of Romania to eliminate the Jewish population. The Jewish men of the town were summoned to the City Hall to be reissued new identification. From this room they were escorted into a stone outdoor enclosure. Here German soldiers would either split their heads or shoot them in the temple of he head. Later a garbage truck would clean up the trash. In the July 29th massacre, 4,000 would perish within the perimeter of the stonewall.

This particularly vicious form of genocide was terrifying to the Jewish population. Two of Heim’s brothers scaled the stone wall that night, and hid for 6 days without food or water. They hid themselves in a space above wood piled to the ceiling. Many more were lined up and sent by train and because it was so hot, one half of those who traveled died from lack of water. Solomon’s family was scattered during the roundup and after the Pogrom calmed down, in 4-5 days, they reorganized from their hiding. His scathing account of the inhumane treatment of the Nazi’s is not easy to listen to, however it gives a perspective not often recorded in history books.

Teachers may have to face hard subjects with students and will find creative ways to help them understand materials.

Resistance to fascism, survival in a hostile environment, and the ability to live in secrecy are just a few of the characteristics many survivors share. Students will learn about the struggles and turmoil of separating from family–immediate and extended. Most of all students will learn about the bravery of survivors and those who helped them.

For more information about a student trip to Washington D.C. that includes a visit to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C. Request a Quote.

A Class Trip to Harpers Ferry, Historic Armory and Civil War Battlefield Near Washington D.C.

by Howard Clemens

For those interested in studying the Civil War, a visit to Harpers Ferry will easily explain its critical geographical position. The natural boundary between north and south is the Potomac River. The Potomac River joins the Shenandoah River here, at the headwaters of the Shenandoah River Valley. During the Civil War, rail and ship transportation were key to supply chains for both armies. Harpers Ferry had both forms of transportation and was a strategic location between north and south. The Confederates were wooing Maryland residents to take up the Confederate side during the war and Harpers Ferry was a good position for this sort of public relations campaign.

A Short History of Harpers Ferry Before Civil War
The U.S. Armory and Arsenal was opened at Harpers Ferry in 1797. This facility produced over 600,000 muskets, rifles and pistols from 1707-1861. Harpers Ferry was also the first place in the U.S. to mechanize the production of weapons.

John Brown’s Raid
John Brown was an abolitionist with radical ideas about freeing slaves. He set out on the evening of October 16, 1859 to raid the U.S. Armory and Arsenal with the objective of seizing 100,000 weapons. These he planned to distribute to slaves to fight a guerilla war against slavery in the Shenandoah Valley. About a day and a half later, with Brown’s men killed or wounded, he was captured by the U.S. Marines. For his crimes of sedition against the country, he was hanged on December 2, 1859. John Brown’s Fort stands today as a memory of the raid, and the place where he was captured. It would take less than two years from the time of John Brown’s raid, and the country would be in a state of civil warfare.

Harpers Ferry During the Civil War
Confederate and Union soldiers passed through Harpers Ferry, making it a vulnerable location. Less than one day from the time Virginia seceded, Federal soldiers burned the armory n April 18, 1861. Yet only 15,000 weapons were burned, and Confederates were able to take the weapon making machinery into the South. The Confederates held Harpers Ferry until the Battle of Antietam concluded in 1862 then the Union reoccupied it . All together the town changed hands eight times between 1861 & 1865 – which illustrates its significance.

Harpers Ferry Jeopardy – Easy to Download and Play
To make it fun for students to prepare for a trip to Washington D.C. and Harpers Ferry, the National Park Service has a game (designed in Powerpoint) called Harpers Ferry Jeopardy. Another useful classroom teaching tool, The War for Freedom is designed for the student to gain a better understanding of slavery and emancipation. The War for Freedom includes intro text, teacher pages, learning activities and additional resources. Students can learn about slavery from the viewpoint of a slave and trace his or her journey to emancipation. Also documented in this section are actual stories of African American soldiers who fought hard for their freedom on different battlefields of the Civil War.

Middle School Lessons Plans for Social Studies Students
The National Park Service has designed a lesson geared towards 5th-8th graders that focuses specifically on Harpers Ferry. The Battle for Harpers Ferry, 1862: Harpers Ferry is the Key! includes four lesson plans that take 30-40 minutes to cover in the classroom. Students gain a better understanding of the strategic importance of Harpers Ferry for the Union and learn more about the life of a Civil War soldier.

With so many great classroom tools to work with, teachers will find it easier to help students understand the importance of Harpers Ferry during the Civil War era. They will also be able to tie this lesson into another about the Battle for Antietam. A real visit to Harpers Ferry will enable students to understand the geographic position of Harpers Ferry today and to view some of the historic sites where armies were situated. Harpers Ferry has sites and trails in three different states: West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland.

To plan a student tour of Harpers Ferry with a student travel company, Request a Quote or email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Resources for Teachers:

The Battle for Harpers Ferry
http://www.nps.gov/hafe/learn/education/classrooms/battle-of-hf-2.htm
War for Freedom
http://www.nps.gov/hafe/learn/education/war-for-freedom.htm
Harpers Ferry Jeopardy
http://www.nps.gov/hafe/learn/education/classrooms/curriculummaterials.htm

A Focus on Student Art Tours of New York City and Washington D.C.

By Howard Clemens

Artists have been challenging us to see our world in new ways for centuries. Art teachers may want to consider bringing classes on tour of museums in New York City and Washington DC that house the most comprehensive collections of art in the United States. When organizing student tours of these cities it is important to consider these museums. It is no exaggeration to say that lives can be changed for the better by visiting such collections of art. For many students, this may be their only visit to a museum in a large U.S. city. Other students may decide to live in a large city and experience the cultural life firsthand.

The Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art are the three highlighted museums for New York City. The Phillips Collection, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden are recommended stops on the itinerary for Washington DC.

On Fifth Avenue in New York City the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is one of the most recognizable and iconic buildings. The Guggenheim Museum was designed by the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. When planning your class trip to New York City, please look at the museum’s online events calendar. Not only are there daily tours of “Art in the Round” but also there are films, and often in-depth discussions on pieces in the collection and even on the building itself. While the Guggenheim houses the private collections of art there are always new acquisitions on view. Check the timing of a student trip and coordinate attendance of special shows at the Guggenheim with a student travel company representative.

Not far from the Guggenheim is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, boasting one of the largest, most eclectic collections of art in the world. This world-class structure houses paintings, arms and armor, furnishings, sculpture and design from every imaginable worldwide location. This is an enormous museum, so please be sure to see their website to plan your visit with specific concentrations on the permanent collection as well as to view current and upcoming traveling exhibitions.

The Museum of Modern Art, known the world over as MoMA, has the most important collection of some of the most astonishing talent the world has ever seen. The permanent collection contains some of the most sought after art by Matisse, Van Gogh, Balla, Rothko, Warhol and others. One of the most popular exhibitions which is on view until January, 2016 is called, “This Is for Everyone: Design Experiments for the Common Good.” The future of design and the technology that is creating the road to that future are highlighted in this strange and beautiful exhibition.

In the heart of Washington D.C., student travel groups may visit the National Gallery of Art and the famous Phillips Collection, as well as the National Portrait Gallery and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

The National Gallery of Art features painting, sculptures, prints, drawings and decorative arts from the Renaissance to the present day. The Photographic collection dates from 1839. On a pleasant day, student tour groups can wander through the Sculpture Garden. Here students can see art from around the world and the work of artists who either studied or taught at the Corcoran College of Art and Design and went on to distinguish themselves. A Media Arts section is also part of the museum, representing contemporary artists that work in digital media.

Art lovers from around the world travel to the Phillips Collection each year to see the Mark Rothko Room, and other famous paintings like Renoir’s classic “Boating Party.” Georgia O’Keefe, Man Ray and other artists are part of the permanent collection. Paul Klee fans know about the large number of his paintings at the Phillips, and visit often. The museum’s website has comprehensive educational resources for much of the catalog. For instance Jacob Lawrence’s “The Migration Series” is featured on the website. This series of sixty paintings depicts the migration of African Americans from the South to the North in the early twentieth century.

The National Portrait Gallery houses a complete collection of original portraits of the presidents of the United States. Besides presidents, the gallery holds paintings of other great American leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. Pop culture Hollywood icons Marilyn Monroe and Woody Allen share space with musical giants like George and Ira Gershwin. A visit to the National Portrait Gallery is as much about art as it is history. There are special exhibits detailing trends in America as well as struggles. See portraits of activists for labor rights, civil rights, and Native American activist Leonard Crow Dog, among many other famous Americans.

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden has a staff dedicated to a deep understanding of art and artist. The museum mission includes the statement, “Good art should elicit a response of ‘Huh? Wow!’ as opposed to ‘Wow! Huh?’” Paintings by Francis Bacon and Joan Mitchell are part of this historic collection. The Sculpture Garden houses some of the most innovative and famous sculptors from around the world, including Brancusi, Rodin, Miro and others. Student tour groups are encouraged to visit the Hirshhorn and learn more with ARTLAB+ and special comprehensive class tours of the collections.

These museums house some of the great treasures of the United States, and visiting them with art classes is part of seeing art as a unique educational tool and framework for not only historical record, but also as a means to forge a better future for humanity and the planet. Artists are the best collaborators a teacher can have. Consider art the classroom itself. Take student groups on tour of these museums to expand their knowledge of art throughout the ages.

For more information about student art tours of New York City, Washington D.C. and other U.S. destinations, visit http://www.educatioanltravelconsultants.com.

Senior class trip ideas for NYC, Washington D.C. and Orlando

by Howard Clemens

Senior year in high school can be life changing in so many ways. Marking the border between adolescence and adulthood, school and college (or employment), senior high school students are looking forward to a world of new opportunities but also saying some poignant goodbyes. After all, the friends that have been so important to them over the last few years will also be going their own way. That is why the end of senior year is an important milestone – important enough to mark with lasting memories.

For many, a senior class trip is the perfect way to make this time extra special. Whether it is a day trip, a few days, a week or more, this is one vacation that must be carefully planned and thoughtfully constructed.

Among the most popular senior trip destinations are New York City, Washington DC and Orlando in Florida. These vibrant, exciting places make it almost impossible for high school seniors to be bored. Read on to learn more about some great senior class trip ideas for those destinations.

High School Seniors on their Final Trip Together: New York City

NYC is a legendary student trip destination, simply because there is an almost endless list of things to see and do there. If traveling to NYC is likely to leave classmates a little tired, why not spend the first evening relaxing at one of Broadway’s legendary musicals? Wicked, Les Miserables, Cabaret and Mamma Mia are just a few of the choices available right now.

If time allows, New York City’s Chinatown district is a must-visit, and the ideal place for that after-show meal. NYC has one of the biggest Chinese communities outside Asia, and there are a huge number of authentic Chinese and other Asian restaurants and shops. Mott Street and Grand Street, in particular, are lined with Chinese restaurants, while Canal Street is a great place to go for gifts and jewelry. Also located there is The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) offering fascinating insights into the vibrant culture and history of the community.

Of course, high school seniors are music and fashion-conscious, and one of the best hangouts for the young and fashionable in NYC has to be the world famous Hard Rock Cafe. Located in the heart of NYC, it is full of authentic rock memorabilia and is a great place for a relaxed, all-American dining experience. Priority seating can be booked in advance by an educational travel company, making the lines a non-issue.

Finally, no student trip to NYC is complete without a boat tour of the harbor. High school seniors can see Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. A student trip to New York City rounds off high school in truly memorable style.

Senior Class Trips to Washington DC

Although it has politics at its heart, DC is far from being a dry, administrative center – there is plenty here for high school seniors to see and do. Within eyesight of Washington D.C., on the shores of the Potomac River in Maryland, the National Harbor (NH) has a bustling waterfront that can compete with any international city. NH has more than 150 diverse shops and boutiques, over 30 eating places to choose from, a range of enticing hotels and lots of special events. Many visitors find this area hard to leave! The National Harbor is also home to the National Wheel, a gigantic Ferris wheel with enclosed gondolas that give a superb – and unforgettable – panoramic view of DC.

For culture lovers, DC has a range of theaters; so taking in a play is a popular option. For those whose preference is for adrenaline, there is the opportunity to try whitewater rafting on the Shenandoah or Potomac rivers in nearby West Virginia. More laid-back water lovers might prefer a boat tour of calmer sections of the Rappahannock River.

Orlando, Florida has Much to Offer Student Traveler

Surely no high school career is complete without at least one trip to Walt Disney World in Florida. Disney World offers a range of special offers designed especially for senior class trips, including interactive rides and programs, themed dance parties and buffet breakfasts. With a setting like that, how could anybody forget their high school senior year?

A great alternative – or addition – to a trip to Disney World trip is Universal’s Islands of Adventure, which offers rides, characters, special events and shows for every age and taste. Senior students will love Universal CityWalk, a 30-acre entertainment complex with nightclubs, restaurants, shopping and movies.

Planning a senior class trip can be challenging; with so many different tastes, interests and personalities along, it is important to offer a good mix of activities and entertainment. However, the high school senior year trip is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all. So it is important to get it right. Hopefully these ideas have provided some inspiration.

For more information on putting together a senior class trip itinerary for New York City, Washington D.C. or any other destination, visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com

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 Travel Groups Encounter the Ghosts of Arlington, Virginia While Visiting Washington D.C. Area

By Howard Clemens
No student trip to Washington D.C. is complete without a stop in Arlington, Virginia. Arlington is the second largest city of the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. Situated on the southern bank of the Potomac River, a stunning view of the D.C. skyline can be seen from all vantage points. While in Arlington, be sure to also visit The Pentagon Memorial, The Marine Corps Memorial and The United States Air Force Memorial. Student groups will learn a great deal about the history of the military in Arlington. In the evening, groups can look forward to seeing the hair-raising Arlington Ghost Tour, and learning about history from a different perspective.

 
Who said Virginia was for lovers? Actually, Virginia is for ghosts. Virginia is the most haunted state in America. No city in Virginia could be more haunted than Arlington, home of Arlington National Cemetery. The heroes of the United States are resting here, or according to the ghost hunters and tour guides – some of the ghosts of America’s past are not at rest at all.

Famous Ghosts Haunt Arlington

Arlington National Cemetery is one of the most haunted sites in the country. This famous cemetery is the second to the largest burial ground in the United States. It is home to the graves of many American war heroes and two U.S. presidents (John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft). Over 300,000 are buried on these green, rolling hills. Over 7,000 funerals occur here per year, adding many new apparitions with each passing season. On average, there are 28 funerals per day at Arlington National Cemetery. This is also the only cemetery where servicemen from every war in U.S. history are buried. Many apparitions of these departed souls have been spotted roaming the cemetery at night.

arlington national cemetery
The Custis Lee Mansion at Arlington National Cemetery was built in the early 1800s.

The Custis-Lee Arlington Mansion and Robert E. Lee Memorial is a haunted spot located within the cemetery. This Greek-revival style mansion was the last resting place for the Union War dead. Before this, it was the pre-war home of Robert E. and Mary Lee. Several ghosts have been spotted here, including the spirit of Mary Custis Lee herself.

 
Dedicated to American service members who died without their remains being identified, The Tomb of the Unknowns is famous for its frequent changing of the guard ceremony. It is perhaps even more famous for its high level of paranormal activity.

Visit the Kennedy Gravesites at Arlington National Cemetery

A trip to Arlington Cemetery wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Kennedy Gravesites. After President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, his widow Jacqueline decided her husband should be buried in a very public place, famously explaining, “he belongs to the people.” Thus, he was buried in Arlington Cemetery, on a slope below the Lee Arlington House. On the day of the funeral, Mrs. Kennedy lighted the Eternal Flame, which continues to burn at the head of the grave, serving as a beautiful reminder of the President’s life and lasting contributions to our country. The gravesites of the President’s esteemed brothers, Robert and Ted, are nearby, decorated with simple white wooden crosses.

student trips dc
Old Post Chapel is adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery and the site of many ghost sightings.

Ghost Tales from the Old Post Chapel

Across the street from the cemetery is perhaps the most haunted Arlington site of them all, Old Post Chapel. Once used as a mourning room, so much paranormal activity has been spotted here that students will experience a ghostly chill. Constant ghostly voices and footsteps have been reported at the chapel. Locked doors have been known to swing open without any known help. Cabinet drawers swing open to 90 degrees. Loud organ music has been said to play in the Chapel at odd hours of the night. The Chapel is also home to many known apparitions. There is a small boy often seen running through the Chapel – but as soon as he faintly appears, he just as quickly vanishes. Some have heard a woman wailing in the front of the Chapel while others have seen a beautiful dark-haired Spanish lady who disappears the moment she realizes she’s being watched.

Entertainment and Dining Near Arlington

The perfect complement to one of our exciting, ghoulish Ghost Tours is a nice meal in Arlington. Arlington has a sophisticated restaurant district including well-reviewed restaurants such as Liberty Tavern, The Green Pig Bistro and Boulevard Wood Grill. For large student groups, advanced reservations are required and an educational travel company can help make these arrangements. Student groups visiting Washington D.C. also love to visit the Hard Rock Café. Looking for fun entertainment and a meal? In nearby Old Town Alexandria Medieval Madness is a great way to spend an evening. For more information on combining a student tour of Washington D.C. with a ghost tour of Arlington visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Chorus, Orchestra and Band Trips to Washington D.C. Include Performance at Top D.C. Sites

Band trips for high school students include a public performance as the main objective of the trip.  Some performance groups travel specifically for adjudicated festivals, which usually occur on the weekends from early April through the end of May. Other bands, orchestras and choral groups schedule performances at notable pubic venues in major cities.  The Washington D.C. performance trip is especially rich because it gives students a chance to play in heavily trafficked public venues such as:  the Lincoln, Jefferson, or FDR Memorials, the White House ellipse, Union Station or the U.S. Navy Memorial. Student travel groups can also enjoy the many other sites in D.C. and engage in fun entertainment activities.
NationalMall
The White House Ellipse
The White House Ellipse is a nice venue for warmer months, where high school bands and orchestras can play outside. The ellipse is a circular driveway that surrounds an open field. Here, many citizens have demonstrated or participated in community functions.  This open area of the President’s Park outside the White House is a highly visible location for a performance group to showcase their talent and is available for performance group trips with enough advance notice.

Lincoln, Jefferson & FDR Memorials
Located on the National Mall in Washington D.C., the Lincoln Memorial offers a splendid view and excellent exposure for student performance groups.  Also on the National Mall, The Jefferson Memorial was completed in 1943 and it was built to resemble the Roman Pantheon, with a circular colonnaded style of architecture, which Jefferson himself brought to America. He was a true statesman, scholar and architect, among many other distinctions.  There is a statue of Jefferson within the memorial, looking out towards the White House.  There is also a statue of the five members of the Declaration of Independence drafting committee submitting their report to Congress, and five excerpts from Jefferson’s writing adorn the walls. These snippets encapsulate his main thoughts and philosophies.  Both Memorials are iconic American statues celebrating two of the greatest presidents.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) Memorial
Also on the National Mall in Washington D.C. is a memorial to one of the greatest Presidents of the United States – Franklin D. Roosevelt.  His presidency occurred during the 1930s and the 1940s and spanned the Great Depression and World War II. Despite having polio and being restrained to a wheel chair in later years, Roosevelt’s leadership is renowned and his legacy remains strong.  FDR’s statue is cast in a sitting position with a cloak draped around him and his dog is by his side.  On the other side of the memorial are men in a bread line waiting for food, signifying the Great Depression.  Because the Memorial is outdoors, on the National Mall, it provides a spectacular amount of visibility for student bands and orchestras.

Union Station
Union Station in Washington D.C. has a rich history as one of the major crossroads of America. Opened in 1907 when the Baltimore and Ohio Pittsburgh Express came into the station, Union Station’s construction was eventually completed in 1908.  The white granite construction is outstanding and it is embellished with many different images.  All of the wood features inside the Station are made from a deep, rich mahogany.  In the fall of 1988, Union Station reopened its doors after a restoration project.  Student performance groups have the chance to perform in this iconic structure, which still amazes many with its magnificence today.  Travelers can take all forms of rail through Union Station:  Amtrak, the DC Area Metro, Maryland Rail Commuter Service (MARC) or Virginia Railway Express (VRE). Bus service on all major public transportation lines as well as private bus companies such as Megabus, Bolt and Peter Pan can also be boarded and disembarked from at Union Station.  The bustling Station houses restaurants, newsstands and stores and is the location of many special events.

U.S. Navy Memorial
The U.S. Navy Memorial was dedicated in 1987, in the 212th year of the Navy’s existence.  It is centrally located on Pennsylvania Avenue, between 7th and 9th Streets.  This public, outdoor park also has a Naval Heritage Center on site.  The Navy Memorial is centrally located and can easily encompass large groups for special events.  Student performers will find that a performance at the U.S. Navy Memorial puts them in the heart of the Washington D.C. political district, where Pennsylvania Avenue connects the White House and the Capital.

Trip leaders need to plan ahead with a recommended one year to six months advance to schedule a performance trip to Washington D.C. that includes their desired venue. There are numerous details of a performance trip, but it is well worth the effort.  Student travel groups need a special tour guide who is experienced in performance tours.   Musicians have to carry their instruments for performance tours in Washington D.C. and this may be bit complicated, especially if air travel is involved and airline luggage fees apply. A specialized tour guide will be able to test stage equipment pre-performance and take on other duties associated in organizing this type of student trip.

Many high school bands, orchestras or choral groups scheduled to perform in Washington D.C. usually stay four or five days so they have a chance to see the entire Washington D.C. area. Some performance groups will perform in Washington D.C. and take a short trip out to Mount Vernon or Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.  Others may want to explore political sites such as the U.S. Capitol and the White House, or visit the National Archives or see inside the J. Edgar Hoover F.B.I. Building.

In the evenings, student performance groups can have fun, related entertainment, such as a stop at the Hard Rock Café or an evening at the Medieval Dinner Theater.  There are, of course, numerous other options to add to itineraries such as exploration of the Smithsonian Museums, or a visit to the newly opened Washington Harbor to ride the brand new observation wheel with a view of downtown D.C.

There are so many excellent touring sites that student musicians can see while visiting the Washington D.C. area.  And, trip highlights may be customized by the trip leader, band director or teacher. Request a quote for student performance trips to Washington D.C.

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.

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