Washington, D.C. 2024

Join the Class of 2028 on the annual Eighth Grade trip to the nation’s capitol!

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Our annual Washington, DC trip began dark and early on Saturday morning, March 23, 2024. The 8th graders and their chaperones pulled away from Clarksville Academy at 5:30 AM and began the first leg of the trip to Charlottesville, Va. 

Upon arrival, the group stopped at The University of Virginia to learn all about the history of the campus and its founder, Thomas Jefferson and what student life and admissions is like today. Students visited The Whispering Wall, the famous Rotunda on the lawn, the college dorm room of Edgar Allan Poe, and paid their respects at the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers wall. 

After the hour-long campus walking tour, the group walked to dinner at a popular college hangout, Boylan Heights. Then, before checking into the hotel for the night, grabbed ice cream at The Dairy Market.

March 24, 2024

After a good night’s rest, and breakfast in the hotel, and before heading to Washington, DC, the group headed to the home of Thomas Jefferson, Monticello. A guided tour of the grounds and house helped the history of Thomas Jefferson come to life. Students toured the reconstructed residence and work areas of the 600+ enslaved laborers of the plantation. Additionally, they learned about the story of Sally Hemings. Our visit closed with a near mile hike down the mountain to visit the gravesite of Thomas Jefferson and his family. 

March 25, 2024

Monday started with a rare trip to tour the inside of The Pentagon. Clarksville Academy is fortunate to have parent and CAPA member, Tee Fountain, for MANY reasons, to include her willingness to arrange a private tour of The Pentagon for our 8th graders. The Pentagon does not provide these private tours for school groups any longer, but through Tee as a former military employee of The Pentagon, we are able to visit. Students saw the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, the Navy Memorial to 9/11 (rare for the public), artwork and dedications to all branches of the military, and the interior courtyard. This was an amazing and once in a lifetime experience. We are so grateful to Tee for her arrangement of this educational experience for our students.

After leaving The Pentagon, students ate lunch at the Pentagon City Mall food court. From there, students learned about the history of African Americans through The Smithsonian’s African American Museum and The Smithsonian’s Museum of American History. 

Before dinner, the group stopped at the base of The Washington Monument and got some energy out by running around, playing volleyball, throwing a frisbee, and relaxing in the sunshine. After enjoying the lawn, students ate dinner at The Hard Rock Cafe.

To finish the day on Monday, students visited Lafayette Park and took a group picture at The White House. Interestingly, while there, the park closed as diplomatic visitors were visiting  The White House, and students watched as news cameras were set up. 
After the museums and The White House visit, and museum visits, students were able to stand outside of Ford’s Theater and The Peterson House. Students observed the original steps where Abraham Lincoln’s body was carried after being shot in Ford’s Theater. 

To end the night, the group took another nighttime walking tour of some of the many amazing monuments in the city. Students spent time at The Jefferson Memorial and The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. While viewing and learning about these monuments, the Cherry Blossom Festival around the tidal basin wowed everyone. 

Thank you to Victoria Dye for designing our wonderful shirts for the week!

March 26, 2027

Early morning on Tuesday, students drove to the home of George and Martha Washington, Mount Vernon. Students walked the grounds and had a guided tour of the house. Much of the home is original. Additionally, the group walked a trail to see the tombs of the Washingtons and also graves of the enslaved laborers that worked at Mount Vernon.

From Mount Vernon, students visited The United States Capitol. The tour of The Capitol was guided and students were able to stand in the Rotunda and National Statuary Hall to see where dignitaries and presidents lie in state. 

An exciting development on this trip was learning there is now permission to take photographs at The National Archives. Students viewed the founding and original documents for our nation.

The group capped off the night with some relaxation and fun at Pinstripes Bowling Alley and a short walk around Georgetown University. 

March 27, 2024

The day started cold and rainy- the appropriate and somber backdrop for a trip to Arlington National Cemetery. While at the cemetery, the group took the long walk to the top of the hill to witness the changing of the guard ceremony located at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. From there, students walked to the prominent grave location of John F. Kennedy (eternal flame) and also the memorial to The Challenger space mission crew.

Wet and cold, students went to dry off and recharge at L’Enfant Plaza for lunch. From there, the group experienced another somber and sobering stop at The Holocaust Museum learning about the horrible events in our history.

The museum stops ended with The Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History. Students enjoyed seeing the huge exhibits that focus on all aspects of nature in our history. They also enjoyed buying hats! 

With a few extra minutes before students needed to board a dinner cruise, we took a bus tour of Washington, DC locations. Locations viewed included the original American Red Cross building, another view of The White House, The Daughters of the American Revolution building, and the World War II Memorial.

The night and trip capped off with a traditional student favorite- The Spirit Dinner Cruise. Students boarded the ship and coasted down The Potomac River viewing the DC skyline and dancing the night away. Amauri Bussey won the dance contest on the ship and even a few chaperones were seen joining the fun. It was a great way to enjoy one another’s company and bond as a class.

After the cruise, a tired group headed back to the hotel to pack up for the ride home. On Thursday, we will be Clarksville bound with a stop at the Natural Bridge Park and rest stops. 

March 28, 2024

Thursday, all got up early to head home! After a few hours on the bus, everyone got to enjoy the crisp air and sunshine on a short hike (with 137 stairs!) to the naturally formed bridge at The Natural Bridge State Park in Virginia. This area was owned by Thomas Jefferson from the 1770s-1830s. 

This stop was also where the group said goodbye to John Ivory, our amazing tour guide for the week. 

Students loaded the bus then for the final trek to Clarksville Academy. An amazing time was had by everyone and another tradition has been fulfilled. The 8th graders are absolutely fantastic and received compliments from COUNTLESS guides, drivers, and workers throughout the week. They even had a bus driver, Lawrence, and John Ivory request to serve our group again next year. Lifelong memories and friendships were made. 

Now, it’s time to enjoy Spring Break and get some rest!

Washington D.C. 2023

Follow along as our eighth grade students continue the CA tradition of visiting Washington, D.C.! They are off on the adventure of a lifetime!

Sunday, March 12

First stop, University of Virginia! The students had a wonderful time exploring the University that Thomas Jefferson helped to create. It was a very cold and snowy tour, but well worth it!

Monday, March 13

After a night in Charlottesville, VA, the group set out to visit Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s beloved mountain top home.

Along with a docent-led tour of the house itself, our students were also able to visit Mulberry Row (enslaved people’s quarters), Jefferson’s garden, the north annex, and the Jefferson gravesite and family cemetery.

Following the tour of Monticello, the group boarded the charter bus to travel on to Chantilly, VA, and the Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Center. Students were able to see many different types of aircraft, including the Space Shuttle Discovery, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress “Enola Gay,” and a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.

After a delicious dinner at Chevy’s Fresh Mex, the group crossed the Potomac River to see the Lincoln Memorial. This awe-inspiring memorial made a fitting end to our first full day of touring and sightseeing.

Tuesday, March 14

Our second full-day dawned clear but cold, but our intrepid group was undaunted! Tuesday’s first stop was Arlington National Cemetery, where students were able to visit the Tomb of the Unknowns, the JFK gravesite, and the Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial.

In addition to the Changing of the Guard ceremony, we also had two students who were able to visit the graves of family members interred at Arlington.

From the ANC, our group moved on to a truly rare experience. Through the assistance and connections CA parent Tee Fountain, a retired US Army service member, our students were able to tour the Pentagon! In fact, the CA group was one of only two tour groups in the building on March 14th. Our Pentagon-sponsor, Mrs. Joycinda Hinton, met the group at the Visitor’s Center and introduced us to our tour guides, who were led by Sgt. Hawkins. The guides– members of the US Air Force, Army, and Navy– took students through several areas, including the Vietnam War exhibit, the Eisenhower exhibit, and the Women in the Military exhibit. Perhaps the most-moving portion of the tour was 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Chapel and the 9/11 Quilts display, which were quilt beautiful.

After the Pentagon tour, we moved across the street to the Pentagon City Mall, where students were allowed to pick from the varied options of the Food Court for today”s lunch. After this quick repast, we again boarded the charter bus to travel back into D.C. for our next stop– the United States Holocaust Museum.

This museum is an unique, interactive experience that documents the history and horrors of Nazi Germany’s “Final Solution.” Throughout the entire visit, the CA students were attentive and engaged, frequently asking excellent questions and making connections between the artifacts and their own life experiences.

During the visit, Mrs. McQueen ran into former CA student Kadence Winters, who was in Washington, D.C., with her parents!

After leaving the Holocaust Museum, we traveled to the National Mall and took a group photo with the Washington Monument.

Continuing on from the Mall, the group stopped at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

Although our stop was brief, the students had a terrific time in Natural History, exploring the many exhibits and the Museum Shop, which is the source of the “squid hats” seen in some of the forthcoming pictures.

Following Natural History, the group again boarded the charter bus to go to dinner at Good Stuff Eatery, where students enjoyed a dinner of hamburgers, pizza, or chicken sandwiches, along with some of the best french fries to be found. After dinner the group returned to the Tidal Basin area to visit the MLK, FDR, and Jefferson Memorials.

These last three visits of the day began at the MLK monument, which is one of the newest monuments in D.C. From there, the group walked around the Tidal Basin to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial.

Despite the setting sun and cold temperatures, the students were very attentive and asked good questions about FDR, his family, and his historic presidency. From the FDR monument, we made the short ride to the Jefferson Memorial, where students learned more about Jefferson and his monument.

While it was certainly a very full and somewhat long day, the students were absolute troopers and seemed to have a great time in the nation’s Capital. A short bus ride brought everyone back to the hotel to get some sleep before Wednesday morning’s visit to Mount Vernon!

To be continued ….

Wednesday, March 15

Wednesday’s adventure began with a bus ride to Fairfax County, VA, and the home of our nation’s first President, Mount Vernon. Shortly after arriving, the group viewed a short video about the site, its history, and the Mount Vernon’s Ladies Association, the civic group that owns and operates the facility. Since we had a bit of a wait until out tour started, the group moved to the Education Center to tour the Mount Vernon Museum.

Afterwards, we were able to a 4D film presentation about Washington’s role as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. The film highlighted the victories at Boston, Trenton, Princeton, and Yorktown. From the Education Center, the students walked up to the mansion to begin the tour. Highlights included the “New Room,” which is actually the last room added to the mansion. We also saw five bedrooms, including the room were George Washington died, and examples of authentic period furnishings.

After exiting the mansion, our group moved to the East lawn for a group photo featuring Washington’s view of the Potomac River.

From the East lawn, we headed down South Lane to visit the Washington mausoleum and the Slave Memorial, which we learned includes one of the earliest historical markers in the US to acknowledge the life and work of enslaved people from the Colonial Era.

After a box lunch while driving back to DC, the group visited the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, commonly known as “the Wall.” While at the monument, Cade Wallace had the opportunity to make a pencil rubbing of PFC Kenneth Lee Conner’s name; PFC Conner had served in Vietnam with Cade’s grandfather before being killed in a helicopter crash in 1969.

From the Wall, the group traveled along Constitution Ave NW to the National Archives Museum. Inside the Archives, we entered the Rotunda of the Charters of Freedom, where students were able to see original copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Additionally above these exhibits, visitors observe the Faulkner Mural, which were painted in 1935-1936 and depict an imagined version of Thomas Jefferson presenting the Declaration of Independence and of James Madison presenting the completed Constitution.

After leaving the National Archives, the group moved to the west side of the US Capitol for our official group portrait. Copies of this photo will be delivered in the next few weeks as a memento of the 2023 D.C. Trip.

After the photoshoot, the group walked to the Capitol Visitors’ Center to begin our tour. In the Capitol, students toured many areas of interest, including the Crypt, the Rotunda, and Statuary Hall. The Crypt is located on the lowest level of the Capitol, is the oldest part of the building, and at one time was intended to be the final resting place of President George Washington.

Wednesday’s activities concluded with a visit to Pinstripes (Georgetown) Bowling and Bocce. This unique establishment serves a delicious food and provides a full-service bowling alley and indoor bocce court! Students spent an honor on the bowling alleys before sitting down to a delectable Italian family-style dinner service. Before leaving for the hotel in Manassas, the students partook in several different games, including a “Telephone”-style storytelling game that was quite interesting.

All-in-all, Wednesday was another banner day for the Washington, D.C. 2023 Trip!

Thursday, March 16

What a way to bring things to an end …. Thursday was our last day touring in Washington, D.C., and if was a day jam-packed with activities. We began with the SPY Museum, where the group learned about basic spy-craft, ciphers, and disguises. We also participated in one of several simulated missions, which required students to make use of the skills they learned about in the museum.

From the SPY Museum, the group traveled back to the National Mall area in order to visit the Smithsonian Museum of American History. Before entering the museum, Mrs. McQueen issued the students a challenge: find at least one fact that was new information to you and that you think no one else on the trip would know. Our tour itself started with a viewing of “Old Glory,” the original flag that flew above Fort McHenry in 1812 and was the inspiration for Francis Scott Key’s poem that provides the lyrics for the National Anthem. Afterwards, the students were allowed to move freely through the museum to explore the many and varied exhibits. Several people mentioned be excited to see important objects of pop culture like Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz, Mister Roger’s sweater, and Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street.

Several of the boys also enjoyed seeing a bat used by St. Louis Cardinals’ great Stan Musial, Satchel Paige’s glove, and one of Babe Ruth’s bats. Some were also excited by an exhibit named “Dave’s Dream,” which was a customized Ford LTD lowrider.

After leaving American History, we traveled to L’Enfant Plaza, a unique underground shopping center with a large food court that game folks many options to choose for today’s lunch. After everyone ate, the group then walked about half a mile to return to the National Mall and the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). On the way, we stopped the English Garden, which lies behind the Smithsonian Castle. we enjoyed the warm sunshine as well as the many beautiful flowers and trees, and we paused for another group photo. Unfortunately, the Castle itself– the very first building of the Smithsonian Institution— was closed for renovations so we could not check out those exhibits.

At the NMAAHC, our group was subdivided into platoons of 10 students plus one chaperone. Each group was directed to a predetermined location to begin our self-guided tour of the museum. Two groups headed upstairs to begin in the “Culture” displays, while the other two groups went downstairs to go through the History of African Americans, Slavery, and Segregation from the 1500s to the 1960s.

In the lower History levels, students learned about the development of slavery throughout history, from the Ancient World all the way through to Europeans trading in slaves for their colonies. The next section addressed slavery in American how that practice related to the Charters of Freedom. The exhibit then took students along the historical trail of abolitionism, the Civil War, the Reconstruction and Jim Crow, early 20th-century African American culture, and the Civil Rights Movement.

On the upper Culture levels, students viewed modern works of art created by African American artists, and learned about the many ways that African Americans impacted America and American culture. We saw exhibits that discussed the contributions of African Americans to the US military, Sports, Music, and Film & Television. Although the students were not familiar with all of the artists, musicians, actors, and tv shows and movies, many of them found the artifacts quite interesting. Naturally, the chaperones were sure to point out Clarksville-native and Olympian Wilma Rudolph.

Once we left the NMAAHC, the beautiful weather beckoned us to spend some time outdoors, so students were allowed a “recess” at the base of the Washington Monument. Everyone, especially the chaperones, truly enjoyed this 45-minute rest period in warm, late afternoon sunshine.

After recess, the group trekked from the Washington Monument area up to Lafayette Park and the White House. Along the way, we passed the Treasury Department and the bronze statue of Alexander Hamilton. Upon reaching Lafayette Park and the White House, the group organized for a quick picture with the White House as a backdrop.

From the White House, we traveled to the Promenade to board the Odyssey for our nighttime dinner cruise on the Potomac River. The group enjoyed a tasty meal and more than an hour of dancing aboard ship.

For those not interested in the dance party, the decks offered lovely views of D.C. and its environs. We were also treated to great views of a couple of very important buildings, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Watergate Hotel and Office Building.

All told, we spent about 13 1/2 hours touring D.C. today. It was a full and exciting day, but it certainly took a toll on many of the kids, as one can see in today’s final photo. This photo shows Mrs. McQueen’s view of the bus on the drive back to our hotel.

Tomorrow is the final day, our return to Clarksville. While most of the day will be spent on the bus, we are planning one final tour at Virginia’s Natural Bridge State Park. It has been a wonderful week full of new experiences and great memories, but if we’re honest, most of the group is ready to get home, see family, and sleep in our own bed. With that said, we will see everyone in Clarksville Friday night.

Begin Your Journey.