Last week, 42 eighth grade students and parents traveled across the country to Washington, D.C., Colonial Williamsburg and Philadelphia to explore and learn about our nation’s history with the educational tour company, WorldStrides.

“Being able to take kids out into the world and give them a mobile classroom experience brings the information that they have learned in class to life,” shared Mrs. Banke, staff representative for the trip. “Experiencing history firsthand will leave a lifelong impression and influence their knowledge of the material they are learning in class.”

When the group arrived on the east coast, they started their journey in Colonial Williamsburg and then Historic Jamestown where they were transported back in time to imagine what life was like for those living at the time. The Historic Area of Colonial Williamsburg, a 200-year-old fully functioning town restored to its original colonial design, stretches over 301 acres and includes 88 original 18th-century structures. The group spent the day touring the Governor’s Palace - home to the seven royal governors and learning about historic trades – blacksmith, farming and apothecary.

From there they drove back up to Washington, D.C. and visited the Arlington National Cemetery to pay their respects to the hundreds of thousands of brave men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country. “Being at the Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier impacted the students,” continued Banke. “We observed the changing of the guards, as well as a wreath-laying ceremony honoring fallen soldiers.”

Other sites that were visited included the White House, the State Capitol, the National Archives, Ford’s Theatre and Peterson House, Gettysburg, Valley Forge, American History Museum, Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. “In the nation's Capitol, it was very humbling to stand in the footsteps of these national heroes,” added Banke. Students explored George Washington’s estate, the mansion he shared with Martha and an education center that showcases our first president as a farmer and businessman.

In the evenings the group went to the Iwo Jima Marine Memorial, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Korean War and Vietnam Veterans Memorials, the Jefferson Memorial and the World War II memorials.

Beyond all of the history, students enjoyed the morning devotionals on the bus and just spending time together strengthening friendships. “It was great to see the group of students enjoying one another,” said Banke. “They didn’t group themselves strictly into groups of just boys or girls. I was so blessed to be able to be there with them.”

From monuments to museums and historical places of significance to cultural centers, like driving through Amish country, the group encountered a variety of sights and scenery.

“This trip engaged our students,” shared Banke. “I heard over and over how much the kids really enjoyed the Bible museum and towards the end, our time at the Cherry Hill Farm. Students were able to unwind in a corn maze, play lots of carnival games, and just be together.”

The 16 parent chaperones enjoyed the trip as well. “This was an awesome experience,” shared a chaperone. “The knowledge and passion our tour guide, Sue, has for history is beyond fascinating and contagious! This was my first trip done through a touring company like WorldStrides and I have to say it was pleasant not to have to plan anything and just enjoy!

My son came back with so much enthusiasm and knowledge! It inspired our family to begin delving more into our family history. THANK YOU!”

Secondary History teacher, Mr. Lowery added, “We are grateful to have partnered with WorldStrides for the trip this year. Students who traveled on the 8th-grade trip have the opportunity to obtain free high school credit through WorldStrides Discovery for Credit program. This is a great partnership and added benefit to our students.”