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.

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

Begin Your Journey.