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Washington D.C. trip explores civics, history

The trip is a culminating celebration of the eighth-graders’ time at City Day. It is an intellectually, culturally, socially, and physically invigorating experience that provides them with memories that they share with their classmates for the rest of their lives. Chris Dow Head of School

The eighth-graders at Chicago City Day School explored the intersection of civics and history during their recent weeklong trip to Washington D.C. and surrounding areas. 

While the trip ties directly to the eighth grade social studies curriculum, which focuses on U.S. history and government, the trip has an added significance for students and their teachers.

“The trip is a culminating celebration of the eighth-graders’ time at City Day,” Head of School Chris Dow said. “Every moment of this jam-packed 7-day trip is designed to connect to their time at our school. It is an intellectually, culturally, socially, and physically invigorating experience that provides them with memories that they share with their classmates for the rest of their lives.” 

In what has been a theme for City Day students this spring, the weather was cold and rainy for much of the trip. But that didn’t stop our eighth-graders from delving into the rich cultural and historical resources found in the D.C. area.

Among the sites visited in areas outside D.C. were the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Baltimore, the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, and Arlington National Cemetery and George Washington’s home, Mount Vernon, in Virginia. Students also experienced an immersive tour of Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home.

In D.C., students visited the Smithsonian Institution, where they explored two museums — the National Museum of African-American History & Culture and the Museum of American History. Students visited the National Archives, the White House, and the U.S. Capitol. They saw plays at Ford’s Theatre and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. 

As is standard for City Day travel experiences, learning was the primary focus. Students applied what they have studied in class to the real-world sites they visited, and in turn, the insights they gained on the trip helped shed new light on their past classroom work. 

“You get a totally new perspective on what we’ve done in class by seeing these places in person,” one student said. “I really enjoyed walking through the homes of the founding fathers, seeing how they lived.”

“It was interesting that we kind of went back in time during the trip,” another student said. “We saw places where government happens today, then we saw things related to the founding fathers, and then all the way back to Jamestowne. It was like we tied the present to the past.”

Students enjoyed their leisure time on the trip, as well, sampling the cuisine from food trucks along the National Mall, playing football in Williamsburg, and relaxing during a night of pizza and bowling.

“The trip with its expansive itinerary is only possible because the soon-to-be graduates have become the well-rounded, kind, and intelligent young adults that are ready to head out from City Day prepared for life’s challenges and adventures. Of that they should be incredibly proud” Mr. Dow said.

See photos from the trip below.

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