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Trip of a lifetime: Pagosa students travel to Washington D.C.

Recently, June 7-12, Scott White, eighth-grade history teacher, chaperone Denise Mudroch, and 12 students traveled to Washington D.C for the learning adventure of a lifetime.

The trip was six days filled with visits to all the monuments, museums and battle fields that we studied in Mr. White’s class. This adventure made history come alive.

When the trip was over, students were asked what they enjoyed the most. Each student took away something different from the trip.

Our first day started with a visit to the American History Museum, a part of the Smithsonian Museum complex. The collection at the museum was fascinating; they have everything on display from Michelle Obama’s inauguration dress, Dorothy’s ruby red slippers, Lincoln’s top hat, George Washington’s sword, and Julia Child’s kitchen. When night fell upon the city we headed out to explore several of the monuments in and surrounding Washington D.C. We visited the Korean War Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Abraham Lincoln Memorial and World War II Memorial. Many of the monuments made students realize the struggles and hardships that so many people and soldiers endured.

According to Creede Wylie, “My favorite memorial in the east coast area was the Vietnam Memorial. I really like it because my Grandpa Wylie served with those veterans. Now that my grandpa has passed in the past year it makes me remember the hardships these men and women have served through.”

Casey Mudroch replied, “The World War II Memorial was my favorite, because so many were killed so it was the largest and most beautiful monument.”

Kylee Bonnell responded, “My favorite part of the trip was visiting all of the monuments. They were beautifully-crafted structures that portrayed and honored historical figures and veterans. I enjoyed seeing these and being able to really think about life then.”

The second day began early with a trip to Arlington National Cemetery where the students witnessed the changing of the guard ceremony. This ceremony takes place because a soldier must be guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at all times. It was incredible to see how dedicated and how seriously these men and women take this responsibility. Following the cemetery we visited the Iwo Jima Memorial, and stopped for a photo opportunity at the White House. Seeing the White House in person was very surreal after seeing it on TV for most of our lives. The house and plantation of George Washington, Mount Vernon, was our next tour stop. It was awe inspiring to know that we touched the handrails that George Washington touched and saw the view just as he saw it every day. Later, when it was dark outside we toured the Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson memorials. Being at these two memorials made everyone think of what our country would be like without these two incredible men.

Jeremy Horstman replied, “The reason I liked the trip is because we went to so many monuments and famous memorials. And we met new friends. It was a total blast.”

Trisha Flihan answered, “For sure my favorite thing was everything at night. Getting to see all the monuments and things around them all lit up was stunning. Plus it wasn’t so killer hot in temperatures. I especially liked the Abraham Lincoln Memorial.”

Mesa Lynch responded, “I really enjoyed seeing the houses and plantations of George Washington (Mount Vernon), Thomas Jefferson (Monticello), and James Monroe (Ash-Lawn Highland). It was a different feeling walking through these houses knowing who walked on the floors and slept in the beds and how our nation would be without these people. Also, it was a treat to meet Congressman John T. Salazar. Overall it was a great trip and I would like to go back.”

Day three began with exploring the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress contains stunning architecture and every book ever written, whether it is in print or online! We then went on a guided tour of the U.S Capitol Building. In the capitol building we also had the opportunity to sit in on a House of Representatives debate where we saw how they ran through bills on an every day basis. The Supreme Court building came next on our list of travels. Then, we were given the chance to meet our House representative for the 3rd District in Colorado, Rep. John T. Salazar. Mr. Salazar gave us a tour of his office. Although he is an incredibly busy man he still found time to talk to us. It felt like we were meeting someone famous and definitely became one of the highlights of the trip. After we finished talking to Congressman Salazar, we then traveled to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, where we went on a tour called the Hauntings of Williamsburg.

Katie Blue shared, “The part that I liked most about the Washington D.C trip was getting to see all the old artifacts and learning about how our county evolved.”

Shawnee Koster replied, “The part I enjoyed about the Washington D.C trip was getting to travel to another part of the country. Also seeing our nation’s capitol and learning so many interesting facts. I would surely come again.”

Colton Polczynski responded, “My favorite part about Washington D.C was the monuments. Mainly the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial. Also getting to know the other kids from Wyoming and Texas was really great.”

Dean Scott answered, “The Washington Monument, because everywhere you go in Washington D.C you can see it.”

Sam White replied, “I liked the Korean Memorial.”

Day four started with a guided tour of Colonial Williamsburg. It was like a time machine. In the colonial town, all the shopkeepers are dressed in authentic colonial attire and explain how it was to live back in colonial times. They also demonstrated the trades that were so important during that time of history. You felt like you were living in that day and age. We then had an opportunity to explore the shops and town of Williamsburg on our own. Then, we traveled into the hot and humid air of the Jamestown Settlement, where a guide led us on a tour of the boats that the Jamestown settlers traveled on and the settlement itself. It was amazing to know that we stood in the very spot that the first English settlers had stood.

The fifth day began with a trip and tour to Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello. Thomas Jefferson’s house was filled with his inventions and all of his own designs. He did not like to waste space so the layout of his house is truly unique. We learned that Thomas Jefferson was a man with many talents and interests. After, we went to Ash Lawn-Highland, the home of James Monroe. For a long time James Monroe shared one bedroom with his wife, children and guests, when they visited. It wasn’t until later that more was added onto the house. He had surrounding buildings that contained slave quarters, smoke houses, and eventually guest houses. He also had several animals like sheep, peacocks, and cows.

Day six we headed out early to explore the Bull Run/Manassas Battlefield Park. We walked the mile loop and discovered the different landmarks of the battle. Sadness filled the air because we knew that people had died on the ground beneath our feet. Before we headed for the airport, we stopped and explored the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. We saw everything from the Wright Brother’s plane, to Amelia Earhart’s plane, to the first satellite technology.

We realized that all of our hard work raising funds for this class trip was worth it when we look back on all the great memories, terrific times, friends we made, and how much we discovered and learned to appreciate about our country. It will be a trip that we will never forget, and are thankful to all the people of this community who generously donated towards this trip. We also want to thank Mr. White and Mrs. Mudroch for their patience, dedication, and great senses of humor.