Fifty RHMS eighth-grade students at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., the first stop on their five-day trip.
By Lynne Marsala Basche; photos courtesy of Sharon Majetich
Since opening its doors in 2003, Rocky Heights Middle School (RHMS) eighth-grade students have had the opportunity to participate in an end-of-year trip to Washington, D.C. This year’s students experienced something different and celebrated the five-day trip exploring Washington D.C., Philadelphia and Boston.
Social studies teacher Sharon Majetich is also the RHMS school coordinator for the trip, and she worked closely with Global Travel Alliance (GTA) to plan the sites and events the students experienced. “Teaching language arts and both seventh and eighth-grade social studies through the years, I've seen how actually visiting these places supports the curriculum,” said Majetich. “I know the phrase is overused, but actually being in the places where history happened, ‘makes history come alive’.”
Days one and two in D.C. focused on “American History and Culture,” and students toured the Smithsonian museums and presidential memorials before shifting to a theme of “Freedom is not Free.” The group visited Arlington National Cemetery and saw the changing of the guard. This year, the students had the opportunity to speak with a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier guard after the ceremony. This particular guard was only one of four women that achieved the difficult rank of Changing Guard.
In Philadelphia on day three, students toured Independence Hall and saw the Liberty Bell as part of “The Birth of Independence.” An unofficial debate on the best Philly cheesesteak also took place.
Castle Pines resident Kenan Krause (left) took on a part in the interactive National Park Service presentation about the Minutemen in Philadelphia.
The last days of the trip were spent in Boston learning about “The Shot Heard around the World” and “The Roots of Freedom.” With tours of Lexington and Concord, including the Battle Green, Old North Bridge, USS Constitution, the Paul Revere House and Bunker Hill, students were immersed in history. The group also had more casual time exploring Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, the Public Gardens and Harvard Square, and of course, a rousing few rounds of candlepin bowling.
Students prepared for the trip by participating in the RHMS Washington, D.C. enrichment class. There were five RHMS staff chaperones on the trip, as well as two people from GTA and one tour guide, and the group was well supervised and informed throughout the adventure. All chaperones set their fitness trackers, and they found that on average, the group walked six miles a day, and that included the day-long bus ride from Philadelphia to Boston!
Castle Pines resident and trip participant Avarie Perovich said, “Overall, I had so much fun on the trip and learned so much. I liked that we actually got taught by participating. It was so much fun and very amusing.”
Majetich pointed out that this was the first year Boston was added to the itinerary, which pulled the theme of the trip together with Washington, D.C. being a culmination of where American history is today, while Philadelphia and especially Boston, showed how America began as a country.
With highlights that included monuments, memorials, museums, candlepin bowling, cheesesteaks, and even a fire alarm evacuation in the middle of the night, many memories will stay with the students!