Washington, D.C.

Follow along as Clarksville Academy’s 8th and 9th-grade students explore our nation’s capitol!

Monday, March 21, 2022

The buses left campus bright and early at 5:30 A.M. Fifty-nine students and adults are off on a grand adventure! After a wonderful dinner at a local eatery, Boylan Heights, the students then crossed the street to take a tour of the University of Virginia.

UVA was chartered in 1819, and the first-class began in 1825. The history is really amazing. Some areas of note: the new memorial dedicated to the enslaved people who built many of the buildings on campus, the Rotunda, the Academical Village, where both faculty and students have lived, with faculty upstairs and students downstairs, the yard which is in the center of village (or quad as many schools call it), a portion of the Berlin Wall which was placed after its collapse, and Edgar Allen Poe’s dorm room! We also drove past the athletic fields and arena. It was a full evening, and all the students loved it. We begin bright and early tomorrow with a trip to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, then DC in the afternoon! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Today was the most fantastic day for our students! We began the day at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. We wandered through the gift shop and the museum upon our arrival. We then boarded the tram that took us to the house. Once there, our group divided into three groups and began our tour of the house and grounds. Students were able to walk freely around the gardens, grounds, and slave quarters. Each group then visited the first floor of the house. We then walked back to the visitors center, passing his grave site on the way.

A few interesting facts we learned:

  • There was no such thing as a right or left shoe in Jefferson’s time; you simply got up and put a shoe on a foot!
  • Although space was tight in the large home, Jefferson’s quarters took up a large part of the main floor.
  • The dining room was painted a bright yellow in order to make it feel larger and brighter.
  • As an avid inventor, Jefferson came up with many unique things, like the clocks on the inside and outside of the east door. (There was no front or back door, simply east or west.) The clocks had four labeled as IIII, not IV; the outdoor one only had one hand, while the interior one had three hands. There is also a set of metal ball weights on a rope that signify what day it is, but he ran out of room for Saturday, which is found in the cellar. 

After leaving Monticello, we enjoyed a box lunch and a quick nap as we drove toward D.C.! In the early evening, we entered the city and did a short driving tour past several embassies. We stopped for dinner at a local cantina and then went through three of the monuments for a night stroll. We visited the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (a few of our students found the names of their family members), and the Lincoln Memorial. It was a fantastic night, and our students were so attentive and respectful at each location. We finally reached our hotel at 11:30 PM and have turned in for the night! We have a full day tomorrow to include Arlington National Cemetery topped off with a chance of heavy rain! Be sure to follow along all day on social media sites in the stories.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Our group left the hotel bright and early and made our first stop at Lafayette Park for a White House photo op. The students really enjoyed their time and took many photos.

We left the White House and headed to the WWII Memorial and for a photo op in front of the Washington Monument. The students were so respectful as we learned about the Memorial and took some time to walk through it.

After our time with the monuments we took a moment to walk across the street to Tidal Basin and enjoyed the cherry blossoms at their peak bloom! It was simply gorgeous and our students loved taking photos with them. Coach Adam Welch even caught a couple of gorgeous photos of the blooms.

The next stop in our day was the Natural History Museum where students got lunch and spent time exploring the museum. There were many favorites at the museum.

The last stop of the day was Arlington National Cemetery. Our students not only learned a lot, they were so respectful from start to finish. It was cold and rainy for the majority of our trip, but our students made the most of it. We left the visitors center and walked in the rain to Kennedy’s tomb.

From there the students quietly walked to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to witness the changing of the guard and the Wreath Presentation. This was a somber experience for most of our students, but one they each took in. We were lucky to have CA students participate in the Wreath Ceremony. Wyatt McQueen, Tanner Wilson, Anna Hellums, and Lilly McAlister were able to participate in the ceremony and present the wreath at the tomb. (Check out part of the video on our social media.)

After the ceremony one of the guards took the group into the amphitheater around back and allowed our students to ask questions. Our tour guide said this was the first of any of her tours to participate in a Q&A with a soldier.

Finally we ended our trip to Arlington with a special stop. Nora Shea’s Great Grandfather, Col William J. Keating is buried at Arlington. Nora and a few friends, along with our guide and Mrs. Allen travelled to find Col Keating’s grave. This was a special experience for Nora and her friends.

Before dinner the group made quick stops for photos at the Marine Corp and Air Force monuments. Our students and staff had a wonderful, full day that they will never forget.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

This morning began with breakfast at 7:00 AM and on the bus by 8:00. We rushed to Mt. Vernon to visit the home of George Washington and take in the grounds. It was impressive. We took at quick group photo at the start of the driveway and then headed into the house. The tour was quick, but impressive. The simplicity of some things, but grandeur of others was interesting. The stairway railing was original and made of walnut. They invited you hold on to it as you journeyed to the top floor and think of all the people before you who had touched it. The kitchen was added later and separated from the rest of the house. The students found the grounds the most interesting. A visit down a path out back led us to a burial area of slaves. In recent years, special ground detection equipment has been used to identify burial grounds. Many, many painted rocks were placed and burial sites outlined in this area. It was a somber sight to see. We visited Washington’s burial site and our students were so respectful as we walked the grounds. We then walked to the museum. This was very interesting for our students (and adults) and we learned so much. A crowd favorite was seeing his actual teeth on display!

We then grabbed a box lunch and boarded the buses back into the city. We went straight to the Archives to view the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Magna Carta. This was an exciting thing for our students. (No cameras were allowed inside.)

Our next stop was the Ford Theatre. We were disappointed to find out the actual theatre was closed for tours, but our students made the most of the museum.

Our next stop was the Tidal Basin. Coming to D.C. during the peak week for cherry blossoms is just an added bonus. The basin really put on a show for us today! The group began at Thomas Jefferson’s memorial for a few quick photos. We then walked to FDR and walked through this interesting memorial of his life which included a memorial to his wife as well. We continued through the cherry blossoms to the MLK Memorial. There is something so breathtaking about coming around the trees and seeing this memorial. Our students were so well behaved and took the time to really honor these men. It was a long, cold walk, but oh so worth it.

By this time it was late in the day and the students were ready to hit the Spy Museum. This unique experience gave us the lighthearted fun they needed. Upon leaving there, we were treated to pizza and bowling at a local favorite!

Students returned to the hotel to shower and prepare for another long day tomorrow. This has been such an amazing trip for all!

Friday, March 25, 2022

Today was our last full day, and we kept them busy! The day began early and with a photo op in front of the US Capitol. We spent a while in this area, allowing students to take selfies and photos on both the east and west lawn of the Capitol. We then took an outdoor walking tour that encompassed a quick look at the Congressional and Senate buildings, the Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court.

Upon leaving Capitol Hill, the students visited the newly opened African American Museum. Clarksville’s own Wilma Rudolph was honored in the sports exhibit, which took up an entire floor. Students found themselves drawn to exhibits of sports and music. The students enjoyed our time there. We then walked across the street to the American History Museum. The first stop was to see the original flag flown during the Battle of Baltimore, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write his famous lyrics for the Star-Spangled Banner. Many were shocked by its size-30-by 34-feet. No photography was allowed in this exhibit, but it is one that won’t soon be forgotten. We visited the exhibit hall with Dorothy’s Ruby Red Slippers, saw Julia Child’s kitchen, and viewed the First Lady’s gowns and china, to name just a few.

After leaving our last museum, the students were given the opportunity to enjoy the sunshine on the National Mall lawn. I will admit, many students thought we were going shopping when we said we were going over to the mall for a bit! This time to unplug, run around, sit and talk was much needed. Some even played football with a shoe!

We left the mall and headed to the Potomac! Our group spent the evening on a sunset cruise along the Potomac. Dinner, dancing, and sightseeing were all on tap. Our students had THE best time and were shocked to learn, even their chaperones knew some of the music! 🙂

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Today dawned bright and early. Students and staff grabbed a quick bite and boarded the buses home. It has been a wonderful week learning and growing together. New friendships formed, old friendships deepened. Our last stop for learning was the Natural Bridge in Rockbridge County, Virginia. The 215-foot tall Natural Bridge is a limestone gorge carved out by Cedar Creek. It was once owned by Thomas Jefferson, who sold the bridge for around $160. It was a cold, snowy (yes SNOW) walk down into the gorge, but worth the views once we arrived.

This week has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many of our students. To see this city and experience these things with their classmates will be unforgettable. This group was complemented by many of the places we visited. They were polite, well-behaved, and listened attentively (most days 🙂 ). We are truly #CougarProud of this group as #CAtakesDC

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