Sailing, Settling, Starving And Surviving

Field trip
1. a trip made by students or research workers to study something first hand.







No time wasted on this trip! We ‘slept in’ until 6:45 and then down to breakfast in the hotel. Today is our visit to historic Jamestown. Jamestown is the oldest permanent English settlement in the New World preceded only by the English ‘lost colony’ at Roanoke and, of course, the Spanish settlements including St. Augustine.

Thanks to the expert knowledge of the National Park Service, we quickly learned that life on the settlement was more difficult than Disney’s Pocahontas movie would have you believe. This settlement was owned and established by the Virginia Company of England in 1607 for the sole purpose of finding gold and making a profit. The Virginia Company might have done well to ask themselves why it is that neither the Spanish (who had been in the New World now for over a century) nor the Native Americans had any interest in this location. Could it be that the Jamestown settlement contained no gold or fresh drinking water and was surrounded by inhospitable natives?

After losing about 80% of the settlers to starvation and Indians, resorting to cannibalism and unsuccessfully trying to sail back to England, the settlement was finally saved by the introduction of tobacco which could be grown in the fertile soil of Virginia and sold back in London. A far cry from gold, but the snuff came through. Women were then introduced to the settlement after 15 years (now John Rolfe’s marriage to Pocahontas is coming into focus:) and the road was paved for this single settlement to become 13 original colonies.







We then toured a live archeological site that is literally changing history. The archeologist showed us a Spanish gold ring mounted with a large gem they just uncovered from about 1600 along with a some Spanish beads from about 1550. So, how did jewelry from the enemy make its way into a British settlement? The running theory is that the Spaniards in St. Augustine traded these items with Native Americans and these items worked their way through the Native American trading routes ultimately finding their way to Jamestown. It was clear to all the students that they would need every subject in school to participate in digs like this.

Who knew glass could be so interesting? We watched a live reenactment of a typical 1600’s glass blowing. The clay oven had to be 2400 degrees Fahrenheit which required such huge quantities of wood that the settlers could only make glass about four days each month. So, what did the settlers make? Everything from vases to glasses designed specifically for tavern drinking games.

In Jamestown, three very different peoples from opposite ends of the Atlantic collided. The Native American Powhatton tribe (Pocahontas’ people), the West African slaves and the British settlers comprised a tense cultural triad that is on display in an exact replica of both the settlement and Powhatton village complete with live actors describing life here in the early 1600’s.

How does 140 days crammed into quarters not much larger than a couple classrooms sound? That is a picture of the voyage to the New World. It could have been faster, but the British did not know a direct way to Jamestown so they had to follow the well established Spanish routes which took them down to Africa, over to the southern Caribbean islands and then north to the Virginia settlement. We boarded a perfect replica of these ships docked in the harbor and learned about life on the sea from live sailors. All of your children should return home with a new appreciation for their bedrooms.







The day ended with a devotion in Psalm 32 and Psalm 18. Life as a settler was precarious to say the least. The Bible tells us, “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Our hope is that after today the students can see this verse through a different set of eyes.

by Jim Davis, parent blogger

Road School

Are we there yet? Why don’t they turn on those TVs? How are we still in South Carolina? Can we watch the NBA playoffs where we are going? Is there Wifi on this bus? Did someone use the bus toilet? Was I supposed to bring a toothbrush?

In just about the time it would have taken us to fly to Tokyo, our bus caravan made it through five states to Williamsburg, VA. We battled device withdrawal, car sickness and Avengers: End Game spoilers, but we are here. A huge thanks to our teachers and administrator, Leslie Sherrick, Sarah Davenport and Keira Raesly, for all they did to get us here!


Our day started early at TGS. We divided into our chaperone groups, usually consisting of four students to one chaperone, and loaded up before sunrise. The first stretch was quiet as most students went back to sleep, but everyone was wide awake for our first break at the Georgia Welcome Center where we stretched our legs and took a group photo. Someone really needs to call their state congressman and tell them Floridians want to be welcomed with coffee!

This trip is all about cultural learning so we ate lunch at Savannah’s finest Cracker Barrel where the walls are littered with old items like radios, telephones, typewriters and stop lights. We quickly felt old when we realized that many of the children had no idea what those items were! Each child is given cash for the day and taught to budget two meals and factor in tax and tips. We soon saw who the spenders and savers were! The chaperones put their dialectic skills to the test as they worked to convince the children that 15 cents is not an appropriate tip for an $8 meal.

South Carolina seemed like it would never end, and road construction didn’t help any, but the kids were great occupying themselves with card games, books, and stories. We stopped at a rest area and brought out the frisbees, footballs, and soccer balls to work out some energy inside a well established parental perimeter. Then, back in the bus for some more South Carolina. I don’t think the Pacific Ocean made Louis and Clark happier than the North Carolina state line made these buses.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, so we ate at another Cracker Barrel in North Carolina and we all observed how the accents have noticeably changed. Many of the boys ate quickly so they could maximize their checkers time before getting back on the road. The staff of both Cracker Barrels commented on what a well behaved and well mannered group we have. We were proud leaders, but you should be even more proud parents.

Once on the bus, the children worked on a devotional and then….finally…. got to watch a movie as we left North Carolina for the basketball country of Virginia:) We arrived at our hotel and managed to get most of the teeth brushed before bed.

As we ‘road school’ this week, our hope is that we would be travelers instead of mere tourists. Maybe even time travelers. Would you please join us in praying that we wouldn’t just learn history, but meet it.

by Jim Davis, parent blogger

Experiencing More Of Washington, D.C.

Seven miles of walking took the sixth graders to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the American History Museum, the Capitol Building, and the Library of Congress today.

Did you know that Woodrow Wilson’s portrait adorns the $100,000 bill printed in 1934? At the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, students measured their height compared to that of a stack of $100 bills. Some totaled $1.7 million tall and others a meager $1.3 million. A proper determination of net worth, right?

The actual Star Spangled Banner that inspired Frances Scott Key lies reverently displayed in a dimly lit room at the American History Museum. Also in the museum, many of our sixth grade young ladies delighted in seeing the dresses each First Lady wore on Inauguration Day and learning how the First Lady contributes the work of the White House. There were even several students who were spotted giving televised presidential addresses behind that infamous podium!

At the Library of Congress we saw one of only three perfect copies of the Gutenberg Bible printed entirely on vellum in the 15th century. Also on display is the complete library of Thomas Jefferson with books in Latin, French, Greek, Italian, and English. Word on the street is that some certain sixth grade teachers may have scored Library of Congress library cards!

At the Capitol building, sixth grade got into a nasty brawl! Punches thrown, teeth flying, blood spurting! Oh, wait. Sixth grade only did a mild reenactment of the brawl which actually occurred in 1858 amongst members of the House of Representatives over the issue of slavery in the very room where we stood, now the National Statuary Hall. Also  in national statuary hall, we admired the courage and strength of Rosa Parks who is represented seated as on a Montgomery bus.

by Michelle Seneff, parent blogger

Museums and Making Memories

Greeted by the cool morning air, we began our day walking, waiting at crosswalks, catching the Yellow Circulator bus, then walking again to the Supreme Court. Unfortunately because the Court was in session, we were not permitted entrance into the actual courtroom, but we took in the grandeur and history of America’s “Temple of Justice” which was erected during the Great Depression and completed in 1935.

Above the Supreme Court building entrance the inscription reads, “Equal Justice Under Law.” Our next stop challenged precisely that ideal.  To whom does equal justice under the law apply? At the African American Museum of History and Culture, our students traveled back in time to the 1400’s when the Atlantic slave trade began, walked through a Jim Crow era segregated rail car, and even learned about the Central Florida town of Eatonville, the first incorporated African-American city in the United States.

After a picnic lunch, we visited the Ford’s Theater to see with our very own eyes the presidential box in which Abraham Lincoln was shot by Confederate sympathizer, John Wilkes Booth.  We heard the story of how that infamous day unfolded and how several days later, the great manhunt for Booth culminated in a shoot out and a barn on fire!

Each chaperone group strolled through Chinatown to choose their dinner fare, whether Indian cuisine, Peruvian food, or good ol’ burgers. Back at the hotel, our sixth graders enjoyed a little friendly competition around the game tables before heading off to bed.

Another day is done for our sixth grade Geneva Knights in Washington DC. A day full of history, curiosity, exploring, pondering, and waiting at crosswalks…

by Michelle Seneff, parent blogger


First Day in D.C.

How many stairs to reach the Lincoln Memorial? How deep is the reflection pool? How long does the Metro door stay open? On which side do you stand versus walk on the escalator? Our bright, energetic students who arrived at the Orlando airport this morning, did not complain when they were separated from friends on the plane, pulled out playing cards and creative games while waiting for hotel rooms, hurried their steps to keep up with our excellent guide, Mr. Andre, and respectfully observed the solemn memorials to our fallen heroes. For their ten miles of walking throughout our first day in DC, the sixth graders were rewarded with a sunset cruise, dinner, and dance party aboard a yacht cruising down the Potomac. By 10 pm, worn out feet and sore legs carried tired sixth graders and chaperones back to the hotel eager for the adventures tomorrow will bring.

by parent blogger, Michelle Seneff





The Geneva School
The Geneva School

Nothing from May 29, 2020 to June 3, 2020.

Nothing from May 29, 2020 to June 3, 2020.

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