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
We started our day bright and early, not knowing what to expect.
We would never have anticipated that the actual structures built to house our government would be so thoughtfully planned. Those who built our government intentionally incorporated so many symbolic, artistic, yet functional components.
In the rotunda of the Capital Building, the story of our nation is told through art. Given its beauty, it’s hard to believe that so many people actually go to work there. Laws are still being passed, and in fact, the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, walked through the room during our tour. Another group saw news crews prepping for interviews with lawmakers.
The Library of Congress is certainly one of the most beautiful buildings we had seen. The art was absolutely stunning and the architecture and mosaics had an absolute wow factor. We are still in awe of it. It seems almost odd to think that it is still a functioning library, with over 20 reading rooms. In fact, Mrs. Brodrecht went to get a Library of Congress library card while we were there, and we later found out that one of our chaperones already had one.
The Supreme Court building was filled with symbolism, including a depiction of Moses. Students were able to enter the courtroom where cases have been heard since the 1930’s. We were surprised to see how small the actual courtroom is in relation to the grandeur of the building.
We ended our day at the National Archives. This building houses some of the most important documents ever written. Students were excited to view the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. They saw the Emancipation Proclamation and also the Magna Carta, which even though it was written in the 1500’s is still relevant and important today.
Thanks to what they had learned at Geneva in fourth, fifth, and sixth grade, our students already understood the context and significance of the documents and were happy to see the real deal.
It was a great day.