Hollis Brookline eighth-graders visit nation’s capital

Friday, April 5, 2013



Wouldn’t you know it? After all the planning, a recent monster winter storm scheduled to arrive on a Tuesday morning – the time when the Hollis Brookline Middle School eighth-graders were scheduled to leave for Washington, D.C., threatened to cancel the entire trip. No one wanted that to happen and after several discussions with the bus company, school Principal Bob Thompson decided to beat the storm by leaving early for the nation’s capital.

And so instead of waiting until Tuesday, about 200 eighth-graders got into five coach buses and began their class trip down to Washington, D.C., on Monday, March 18, at 10 p.m.

“When we pulled out, there was no snow, then we saw a little in Townsend, and some in Connecticut but for the most part, we spent very little time in the snow,” said Thompson.

The kids ended up sleeping in the bus on the way down.

“It wasn’t the most comfortable place to sleep. I got a few hours, but it was worth it,” Dan Poisson said about spending the night on the bus. “We were only tired for the first couple of hours of the day.”

Because the students had arrived so early, they got to spend more time at the memorials and the museums on the National Mall. They visited the FDR and Martin Luther King, Jr. memorials and got to drive around the Iwo Jima Memorial, where, because of the perspective, they got to see the flag rise.

Before the trip, the students organized into groups and researched the name of a soldier on the Vietnam Memorial wall. They created a tribute that they placed below that soldier’s name when they visited the memorial.

“We made a memorial for a soldier one of our friend’s dad knew,” said Simren Bhogal, of Brookline. “After doing some research, we made a record for him and when we found where his name was on the wall, we left it there for him.”

Of particular interest was the Natural Science museum where Poisson and Kristianna Fox, of Brookline, saw the Hope diamond and the original flag that inspired the Star Spangled Banner.

“It was much bigger than I had imagined!” said Fox of the flag, adding that she also liked the replicas of animals and plants from around the world.

Another museum that made an impact was the Holocaust Museum.

“When you walk through, you learn so much and you can feel what other people were going through,” Bhogal said.

The students got to visit the memorials with a tour guide who did a “really good job at explaining about the memorials,” Fox said.

Bhogal agreed.

“It was incredible to see the life size soldiers on the Korean War memorial. We got to see what they wore and even the expressions on their faces,“ Bhogal said.

The class met with Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who came out to the Capitol steps for group and individual photos. She spoke with several of the students and later the senator tweeted about the event.

“Great to see Hollis Brookline 8th graders @ the Capitol in this windy day!” she wrote.

Included in the trip was a moonlight dance cruise and a performance of “Shear Madness” at the Kennedy Center.

“For the play and the cruise, we were required to wear formal clothes. The girls loved wearing their dresses and the boys had to wear dress pants and ties,” Bhogal said. “The play was fantastic.”

The class also went to the Arlington National Cemetery, where four students chosen by the middle school teachers helped with a wreath-laying ceremony. Fox was one of the students and said she was “honored to do it for all those people who had fought in wars.”

“It’s always tricky to take 200 students 500 miles away from home and then put them in an unknown environment. The feedback from the surveys is that the kids had an amazing time. I think they walked away from this trip with a better understanding of our government and history,” Thompson said. “The kids were so well behaved and Hollis and Brookline should be proud how they were represented by this group. It was a phenomenal trip.”

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