Early Saturday morning, 4:30 am early, the kids of FCJH and HIJH met at the Indy airport for the greatest trip of their life. Every year, this weekend spent in DC with 8th graders is one of the highlights of my whole year. I dare say this was the greatest trip yet.
Our first top was the FDR Memorial-- the sun was shining, which we wouldn't get over the whole weekend, and everyone was beyond thrilled to finally be here. And my favorite rocks to climb weren't covered with snow or ice!
MLK Memorial-- always the best spot for cartwheels. I think MLK would have been all about whimsy, celebrations and making sure everyone had a spot at the table.
10 of the 13 chaperones-- proving once again that teachers are actually the coolest. Because our trip combines two schools, this was a chance for teacher friends from both buildings to reconnect. These are the people who make the weekend a success, keep the kids safe and make sure we do DC right.
As a Wyld Life leader, this trip reminds me so much of Wyld Life camp. I get 3 whole days to hang out with all of these kids. I was telling Smooney before I left that my prayer for this trip is always to spend lots of quality time with my 8th grade friends and to get to know new kids and build relationships too.
For the first time ever, we toured the Capitol Building which houses both the House of Representatives and the Senate. We wore headphones for our guided tour so our tour guide can tell us all about everything we were seeing.
Back out front we lined up on the steps to take our traditional school picture in front of the Capitol Building. The year the kids will actually know what goes on inside of it!
Next we toured the National Cathedral for the first time ever. I was blown away. This building is incredible and so beautiful. The architecture and stained glass reminded me of Dimnent Chapel at Hope. I only wish we could have gone to a service here.
After lunch we went to the Washington DC Zoo. I ran around with gal pals Brooke, Brynn, Claire and Katie. They're a group of roommates on Bus Luke and sat directly behind me. So conveniently they were always right there when we started running around a new spot.
It felt magical to be running around in t-shirts and shorts in the middle of February-- this is what dreams are made of.
This year I was pumped to be on the trip with Jack, Maddie's little brother, and Ryan, Megan's little brother, after coming with their sisters years ago.
White House ft. Brookie
We visited DJ at the White House, our bus driver always referred to Trump as DJ, and got pictures from the front gate. Because new administrations don't accept old security checks, we didn't get to tour the inside this year.
We visited the Pentagon Memorial outside the Pentagon-- an intentional and symbolic area, it was just as somber as ever.
Our first dinner was in the Pentagon City Mall. It's my favorite not only because they have Chipotle, but because this always where I meet up with friends who are living in DC. This year that meant I got to have dinner with Annie Fazzio. We worked at Tecumseh together for years and she's one of my favorite humans ever. While we chatted, homegirls Brooke and Brynn hooked me up with Diet Coke and a milkshake--they're the sweetest.
Our night tour took us to the rest of the monuments and memorials in the city...
Korean War Veterans
One of the traditions for my bus on this trip is to have cheer that we sing as often as possible. This year I changed the words to the chorus of Closer, aka the song of the teenagers, for most of it.
Sunday morning started with a stop at the White House Visitor's Center as soon as it opened. Then we made a quick stop at the WWII Memorial.
This crew-- you just can't beat it. I was so lucky to spend three whole days with these kids.
Next stop was the moment I'd been waiting for-- the African American History Smithsonian Museum. It opened in September and I've had my fingers crossed for the last five months hoping we would get in. Somehow Mr. Brown got 200 of the impossible to get tickets.
We only made it through two of the floors in the hour that we were there-- I can't wait to go back next year and see more of it.
Baskets ft. Brookie
"Cole seeks to transform the gruesome legacy of neck ties (used to lynch African American men) into his contemporary vision for inner strength, resiliency and self-determination of African men."
"For me, painting is an endless search for discovery, reflective thinking and invention based upon my ancestral heritage." -James Phillips
"White's drawing, Move On Up A Little Higher, reveals the immense power of black women within the church as well as in the struggle for race and gender equality."
Painted Oval ft. Brookie
"Tommie Smith, John Carlos and Australian Peter Norman staged one of the most iconic and important protests against racial discrimination. Dressed in black socks, a black glove on one hand and a black scarf, they stressed the black poverty plaguing black America and represented their prayers for black Americans."
"Swing Low is a drawn from the name of the beloved Negro spiritual, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." The arc segments in this hanging sculpture reference the chariot's swinging motion and it's winglike forms as bands of angels."
Albert Einstein--always one of my favorite spots. Usually when the kids climb up on his sculpture they have to brush off the snow and then their fingers freeze from holding onto the cold metal. NOT THIS YEAR!
Hodgie and I used to have rooms right beside each other at HSE Junior High. He made me love coming to school every day and taught me so much about how to love these kids well. Now I look forward to DC when we get to reunite for three whole days.
Joe's Souvenirs for the classiest DC apparel and souvenirs that you ever did see.
Our first ever walk through the ART PARK!
Check out this magic-- we made the Washington Monument disappear!
We got to see the sunset over Washington, everyone was happy running around taking pictures, and we still had so much time left on the trip.
Washington Monument ft. Brookie
I was so happy to get to party with my teacher friends Hauser and Richter this year. The three of us eat lunch together nearly every day and we've been anticipating this trip for months.
Oh my goodness-- I laughed with Reece, Paige, Libby Grace, Kristen and Isabella so much on this trip. Somehow,thankfully, we found each other at nearly every stop.
Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
FIESTA AT CHEVY'S-- the best flour tortillas I've ever had, endless chips and salsa, the creamiest vanilla ice-cream you've ever had and a dance party as we left the restaurant.
I was too busy living in the moment at our dance party to take any pictures, but let me just assure that those 8th graders made me proud. I can say with complete confidence that it was the best dance party we've ever had on this trip. Not only was it the highest teacher participation I've ever seen, but the wildest and most fun kids on the dance floor were so good about continually inviting in more kids from the edge of the room and dancing with them.
Monday morning we woke up for one more continental breakfast at the hotel. Sidenote-- did you know that the kids pick their own roommates and stay 4 kids to a room? Teachers have their own rooms, free of children. Our tour company hires people who stay awake in the hallways all night long so kids can't sneak out of their rooms.
We drove out to Mt. Vernon, Washington's home, in Virginia so we could be there when it opened. Mr. Brown used his magic again to start a second line and get us through the gate immediately. We walked by the house, saw the tomb and toured the museum in record time.
Like I always say, "It's a beautiful day for some history."
Back in the city we drove up to Arlington Cemetery--last year we couldn't even come because the snow and ice was so bad they closed the cemetery to visitors.
At the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier we watch the changing of the guard and then 4 of our students participate in a wreath laying ceremony.
My personal favorite spot in Arlington...
JFK's Eternal Flame
Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum for lunch
Smithsonian Natural History Museum
Museum Display Glass ft. Brookie
After another bus ride, delayed departure and flight home, we found ourselves back safe and sound in Indianapolis where friends and family met us at baggage claim. It was a grand success and the best DC trip ever.