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8th Grade Trip To Washington DC

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My 8th grade trip to Washington DC was one that I will always cherish. One of my most profound middle school memories is walking into the house where Abraham Lincoln died, The Petersen House. The sun was peeking above the buildings over my right shoulder and my eighth grade boy crush stood just a few students in front of me. We were lined up down the stairs and onto the sidewalk as we listened to the narrator who was telling of how Mr. Lincoln was brought across the street from Ford Theater to be treated by medical staff.

To this day, I am amazed at how vivid the memory of that moment replays in my mind. If you would have asked me on that day if that was something I would remember 20 years in the future, I would have given the usual middle school “I dunno” answer. That answer somehow stands to show the most important memories to students can be ones that might not be apparent to those around them.

When visiting Washington, D.C. on a middle school field trip, we arrived by Amtrak train. As most immediately think of motor coach or school bus, don’t forget that Amtrak trains are still very much alive and well in most of the country. Travel is the experience of the journey, not always the destination. Once we arrived, we did board a bus and we toured the city with a guide who gave us tips about things we would see throughout our four day field trip.

Our student group was told we would see The National Museum of Natural History, The National Air and Space Museum, Washington National Cathedral, Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. I can remember talking amongst friends in the back of the bus about what all those museums held inside. We had heard about spacecrafts hanging from the ceiling in The National Air and Space Museum and we all wanted to guess the correct amount of buildings we would see from the top of the Washington Monument.

I learned a lot about our country’s history on that trip but more importantly, I learned a lot about myself. It was my first overnight trip out of state and I learned how to interact with other students and be responsible for myself. There are endless things to do in Washington, D.C. and below I listed out the top 5 attractions I specifically remember, 20 years later:

  1. The Petersen House
  2. Ford Theater
  3. Washington Monument
  4. Iwo Jima Memorial
  5. The White House

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