Kingfishers were at the school by 7:15, then rolling north on Highway 701 just after 8:00. It was our first real bus trip! All we had to do was sit through Finding Nemo and The Lion King and Robin Hood … and suddenly, we arrived in Charlottesville, VA, and began moving into the Cavalier Inn. Then we were off for a tour of the grounds of the University of Virginia, meeting student guide Diane at the top of the Lawn. Diane told us all about the great academics and sense of community that makes this school so special. Students were intrigued to hear about the professor who held his office hours while jogging and about all the secret societies.
Dinner was the all-you-can-eat student cafeteria at Newcombe Hall, a hot spot for all the college students. There were almost too many options, from vegan dishes to pizza to comfort foot—it took a while to learn the system but after some scouting, hunting and gathering, Kingfishers were eating heartily. We ate a lot of desserts but definitely did not break the soft-serve machine!
The next adventure began the following morning: ice skating at the Main Street Arena in downtown Charlottesville. We bravely strapped on our skates in the chilly air. For many of us, it was the first time. A few of us had skills, like Turtle who took off gracefully and even skated backwards. We helped each other and also used stacked paint buckets to get around the rink, eventually joining in a game of “hockey soccer.” The ice skating brought back childhood memories for some and became a great first-time memory for others. “It was really funny when people fell,” said Victoria.
The bus picked us up at the top of the Mall and we left Charlottesville for Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home, where we had a pleasant picnic, then a couple of tours with really excellent guides. Students learned that Jefferson was an insatiable reader and book-lover, an innovator, architect, farmer, and patriarch in addition to all his service to our country. Under the house, we saw his wine cellar and kitchen, then emerged on the side of Monticello where the slave village stood. We got to see how the slaves lived and worked, and to hear their fascinating and very moving personal stories.
Back in Charlottesville, we had an early dinner at Citizen Burger before going to our evening destination: Jump Charlottesville, a large indoor trampoline park. All of us had a blast, especially Jesse who is a good jumper. There was a foam cube pit to hurl yourself into. “People couldn’t get out, said Jesse, “and it was fun to watch.” Daring students tried the “ninja warrior” obstacle course. Joe completed the circuit in an amazing 28.8 seconds while Avery Rose led the girls with a time of 1:21. Students really enjoyed the wall-to-wall trampolines where you could jump, dunk a basketball or play dodgeball. The experience was great and very equalizing!
Thursday morning, we boarded a new bus with a new bus driver, then headed towards Washington D.C. Our first stop was the Udvar-Hazy Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
Students were given free rein to wander through the museum in small groups. There, we were able to see such interesting and amazing artifacts of the aerospace industry as WWII fighter planes, gliders, and the space shuttle Discovery. Students could also ride in simulators or follow the evolution of plane engines throughout the 20th century. All of us enjoyed viewing the wide assortment of planes and learning about the science of aeronautics. Doug said, “It was a very interesting experience to see these stunning feats of aviation.”
After eating sandwiches prepared on the bus (speaking of amazing feats!), we went downtown to the Washington Mall. Middle School split off with Mme Gates, Dr. Neubauer, Dr. Razzi and Mrs. Crosby to visit the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Tour guide Joe Eisner took us down to the Q?rius Lab, where there were lots of interactive stations (whale ear-wax!) and a whole wall of drawers full of specimens: human skulls, dead birds, minerals, shells, ferns, and much more, with table and microscopes for examining them. Lucy said, “I liked how you could open the drawers and see everything inside them. “It was fun!” Amelia agreed, “We got to touch a bunch of specimens.”
For the second time in our school’s history, the high school entered the National Gallery with Dr. Gates and Mrs. Patrick. We split into two groups led by two different curators. The first group explored the gallery where Daniel in the Lion’s Den by Rubens is located and discussed the art. The second group visited the gallery where Impressionist and Fauvist art is displayed.
The High School and Middle School regrouped, then headed off to the Newseum in the cold drizzle. We were immediately escorted downstairs to watch a short introductory video, then students wandered around the Newseum in our scavenger hunt groups. Most of us saw the Berlin Wall exhibit, then rode the glass elevator up to the top-floor outdoor platform, where we could enjoy a view from the Capitol all the way to the Washington Monument. Groups saw the history of journalism room, an exhibit on presidential dogs, and a look at the Civil Rights Movement at age 50.
The bus took our tired and damp group to Cantina Marina Restaurant, down on the Potomac River. As guests of Bruce and Joyce Gates, we enjoyed a delicious buffet of tacos and barbeque. The wait staff was very complimentary of our students. “Everything was please, thank you and yes m’am,” one waitress told Joyce, “Those kids are great!”
Friday morning we packed the bus and went to the Mall again. This time we visited the newly opened Museum of the American Indian, which had tons of cool and very colorful artifacts. The building itself is quite interesting from an architectural standpoint. It is constructed of what appears to be sandstone, layered liked the desert cliffs of the American West.
For lunch we enjoyed the food in the Cascade Café at the National Gallery, then boarded the bus for our long trek home. You would think kids would be worn out and tired, but we kept chatting and bouncing around almost the whole way. When the bus rolled in to our parking lot at 1:00 am, everyone was glad to get off but happy to have gone. Spring Trip 2016 was a great experience! We are just left wondering, who’s got the BearMoose?
(By all the members of the Journalism class)