Quang Truong and Leah Kurihara
Over the spring break, 62 eighth-graders flew to Washington DC and New York for the annual Washington DC trip. In case you weren’t there, here’s a painstakingly long day-by-day recap.
Day 1 (March 26): All students separated into two buses named Bus 1 and Bus 2 as expected. We arrived at the airport around 5 a.m. After a long security check, plane boarding!! The flight to get to Virginia took about 4 hours, with a two-hour layover in Chicago. The airplane landed around 5 p.m. (Virginia time). Everyone arrived at the hotel around 8 p.m., which was immediately followed by a historic presentation called “Sounds of Freedom” which dealt with the history of African-American people in the American colonies.
Day 2 (March 27): On the second day of our adventure, we went to the Jamestown Settlement. There, we explored the town and met some people acting like settlers from that time period. One man showed us how to load and fire a musket. After that, Ms. Gates led us all to the Native American village where there were huts and chickens. We named the four chickens Eddy, Freddy, Teddy, and Franchesca. Aboard the replica ship, there were talkative yet informative crew that told us all about life on the boat. We soon left and drove to Historic Jamestowne Glassblowing where we watched a man make vases and other glasses. It was cool to see the glass inflate as the man blew into the red hot glass. After, we set off to lunch at Rocco’s Smokehouse Grill. There we had delicious pulled pork and indescribable Mac & Cheese; everyone went back for seconds. We departed and went to the Colonial Williamsburg; we split into small groups and got a tour guide. Our tour consist of a walkthrough of the House of Burgesses. In there, we reenacted a day of court. We found Mrs. Sass guilty of stealing clothes from another townsperson. After we explored shops where we learned about the skills of being a candlemaker, silversmith, wigmaker, and bookbinder. For dinner, we went to an interesting buffet. Many didn’t enjoy the buffet because it consisted of sushi and other Asian food that made some students have an uneasy stomach. The last stop of the night was at Kroger, a grocery store, where we could buy any food or drinks we needed.
Day 3 (March 28): Following a decent hotel breakfast, we visited the home of Thomas Jefferson, the grand Monticello. A 45-minute tour guided us through the first floor of the house and showed much of Jefferson’s French influenced ideas. After the visit to Monticello, a bus took us to the capitol, Washington DC. There, we visited the Arlington National Cemetery, where soldiers and some United States citizens such as President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie Kennedy are laid to rest. Also, at the cemetery we witnessed the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Immediately after, we visited the Iwo Jima War Memorial. After Arlington, we, as well as all of the other DC trippers, were out in the same mall for some free time and dinner. Later in the night, we walked to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and the Martin Luther King Memorial.
Day 4 (March 29): DC – That morning, we woke up early and had a hotel breakfast before we went to go see the White House and Capitol to take pictures. Then we went to the famous statue of Lincoln, The Reflecting Pool, and Washington Monument. Taking a picture next to Lincoln’s statue, the realization was made that it was a lot bigger than previously thought. That was followed by a visit to the Korean War Memorial. This memorial was one of the coolest because no matter where a person stands in the memorial, a statue of a soldier is looking at them. After, we traveled to Mount Vernon, George Washington’s house, where we had a tour of his house and property. Eventually, we made our way to Union Station where we had Johnny Rockets for lunch. We didn’t have a lot of time so we quickly ate and made our way to the meeting spot. Next stop was the Smithsonian Museum. Starting at the Natural History Museum, we took pictures of ancient animals and dinosaurs. Even after all of that, our day still wasn’t over; we still had our drive to New York City. After the six-hour bus drive, we arrived at New York City. We immediately went to the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center. We went up at a total of 72 floors to see the beautiful nightlife of NYC from a bird’s eye. Afterward, we went and saw Times Square for the first time. The lights from all of the signs lit up the block as if it was daytime. The nightlife in New York was so beautiful, but sadly, we had to return back to a fancy hotel that we were planning to stay at.
Day 5 (March 30): Our first full day in New York! Yay! Many rode the famed New York Subway for the first time. Our first destination was Central Park, and in it, Strawberry Fields, which is the John Lennon Memorial which was named after one of his most famous songs, “Strawberry Fields Forever”. From Central Park, we headed to Rockefeller Center where we explored the building and got to enjoy the NBC Experience Store, where people could sit in a chair from the show The Voice or sit at the desk of The Today Show. Some found the time to visit the Nintendo and buy some officially licensed gear from Mario, Pokemon and more. After Rockefeller Center, everyone went through the most anticipated event of this trip: The Fifth Avenue Break. We were released into the famed Fifth Avenue where a five-story Nike store stood, the original Saks Fifth Avenue, and the home to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. From there, we headed to Times Square once again, only to shop again. Then after Times Square, we followed that up with even more shopping in the cheaper, and exotic Chinatown. Chinatown merchants sold cheap goods which had negotiable prices. Especially one guy who sold some of us mini cakes for a dollar off, but it turned out to be a rip off because the ones we were sold did not have the cream that they were supposed to have, but oh well. Following Chinatown was Little Italy, where many people got to visit a store that sells Christmas items all day, every day. After the dinner in Little Italy was the Blue Man Group show that was visually appealing in all aspects, and was extremely entertaining. From the show, we walked straight to Times Square for the third time to take our group picture, then it was back to the hotel.
Day 6 (March 31): On our last day we went to the World Trade Center and 9/11 Memorial. In the World Trade Center, we went to the observation floor where we looked at New York City and it’s harbor from 104 stories up. The sight was amazing! After, we went to Wall Street and the Bull of Wall Street. For lunch, I went to a deli shop and got a sandwich that was way over-priced. At 11:30ish, Bus 2 got on a boat ride to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island; however Bus 1 had a bus driver who had some misunderstandings with our tour guide and made us late to the boat ride and had to go to The Intrepid and Space Museum as compensation for losing the opportunity to see an international icon. Bus 1 was given only half an hour to explore the museum, which did not allow us to see the whole museum that is built on a military ship. The museum had a space shuttle, but many were unable to visit due to the lack of time. Bus 2 had a great time though on their tour of Ellis Island. The sight of the Statue of Liberty was beautiful. As soon as Bus 2 got off the boat from the tour, they hopped back on a bus to go to JFK airport. Everyone was separated into buses based on their flights. Students flying American Airlines went with Mrs. Sass and Mrs. Redmond, and students flying Delta went with Mrs. Gates and Mr. Cota. Students who rode on the American Airlines were treated with candy bags, graciously donated by Skylar Sievers’ grandmother. Of course, again, we were running late, so my group had to run down the terminal to our gate. Mrs. Sass’ and Mrs. Redmond’s group at the airport had a hold up at security and had to sprint and run up escalators in the airport. We made it on time to our flight, but the Delta group wasn’t as lucky. They missed their flight and had to get on a different plane to go back home. We got home around 10:30 where our parents were there to greet us and welcome us home.