Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Lucio, Angel, and Bryan DANCE DC

As you all know I spent a few days in DC with a fabulous group of Fifth Grade Science Olympiad students and chaperons.  While we were visiting our nation’s capital there Lucio, Angel, and Bryan busted out some serious dance moves. Check out the video below to see the boys as they danced their way through some DC landmarks. 

I took the videos (sorry for the poor video quality--it was on my cell phone), but all the credit for piecing the video together goes to Ms. Dunlap. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Science Olympiad 2014: Our Final Day in DC

The first few days of our trip we packed in multiple destinations and racked up the miles walking. Today was our final day in DC, but unlike previous days we only had one major item on our agenda for the day: a visit to Arlington National Cemetery. The DC metro system has been our main means of transportation from place to place. To get to Arlington from our hotel in Friendship Heights we had to take two different metro lines.

Once we arrived at Arlington National Cemetery we paused for a group picture outside of the main gates.

When you enter the main gates you immediately see a visitors center which provides a brief history of the cemetery as well as bathrooms and drinking fountains.

Throughout Arlington there were signs that reminded visitors to be respectful of the hallowed ground which they are visiting. I am proud to say that there were many people visiting Arlington today, including numerous groups of students. By far our students were the most well-behaved and respectful out of all of the students who were at Arlington today.
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After a brief stop in the visitor’s center, we began our walk to explore the grounds of Arlington. On the way to the Kennedy’s final resting place there is a monument in a half circle with some powerful engravings (pictured below). In some of the pictures you can even see the Washington Monument in the distance. 

Our first stop was the grave of John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, and two of their children (August and Patrick).

Sitting atop the hill that rises from the Kennedy’s final resting place is a mansion where General Lee and his family lived prior to the civil war. I did not get a good photograph of it, but if you would like to learn more and see some pictures you can click here. The one thing I do want to note is that General Lee’s family lost the land upon which Arlington National Cemetery is located when Lee decided to lead the Confederate army. The land was ultimately confiscated and turned from a plantation into the cemetery.

As we left the area where John F. Kennedy is buried, we came upon several other markers that made note of the final resting place for other members of the Kennedy family. One of the markers we saw was that of Senator Edward Kennedy. As you can see in the photograph below there is change sprinkled on his grave marker and the surrounding grass. The coins are a symbol to show how treasured Edward was.

As we continued to make our way through Arlington, I cannot clearly express what it was like to see grave markers in every direction we looked. It is truly humbling to see the final resting place of the men, women, and in some cases their spouses, who served our great Nation.

Our next stop was the Tomb of the Unknown Solider where we were able to watch the Changing of the Guard. There was a large crowd gathered on three sides facing the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was so quiet you could literally hear a pin drop. The changing of the guard takes place with absolute precision. Once the guard has changed, the new guard proceeds to guard the tomb being sure to stick to the number 21 when walking, turning, and performing his guard duty. 

After the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, we headed to the Iwo Jima United States Marine Corps Memorial which was modeled after the Pulitzer Prize winning photograph that Joe Rosenthal took during one of the most iconic times of World War II. 

As we walked through Arlington, we made note of the various symbols on the gravestones. Mr. Roper did some research and found this great website that lays out the various emblems of belief on government headstones. We also noticed that some headstones had money or pebbles on top of them which serves as a reminder that although someone is no longer on Earth with us, they are not forgotten. 

 The black markers seen in the picture below serve as placeholders until the headstones can be installed. 

The black markers seen in the picture below serve as placeholders until the headstones can be installed. Once our journey through Arlington National Cemetery was complete, we headed back to the hotel to retrieve our luggage before boarding the metro one last time to take us to the airport. 

While we waited to board our flight home we grabbed a bite to eat for lunch and wrote more postcards to thank everyone who donated to make our trip a reality. 

As you can see in the pictures below the students loved being on the airplane! For many of them it was only their second time on an airplane! 

We arrived safely in Atlanta a few minutes ahead of schedule and our rides were waiting to take us back to school. Once we arrived at school we were greeted by family and friends. Someone had "Welcome Home" balloons set up in front of the school. Amy's mother prepared a delicious salad and tomatillas to give to the chaperons as a thank you for the trip. The food was delicious!

Over the course of this trip I took over fifteen hundred photographs. We walked nearly twenty-five miles in the four days we were in DC. Throughout our trip we received numerous compliments on how well-behaved our students were. Thanks to our friends, family, school community and local businesses we were able to make this once in a lifetime trip come true. As you can see from the photographs I have shared in my posts the past couple of days the students had the time of their life visiting our nation's capital. Thank you for following along with our 2014 DC adventures! 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Science Olympiad Tours DC: Day 3

Today our group donned our sporty red t-shirts which have a woordle in the shape of Honest Abe’s head on the front. For some reason that reminded me of red ants as we are always in a group moving together from one place to another. Therefore the song “The ants go marching one by one, hoorah, hoorah!” kept playing in my head throughout the course of the day.
Do you know the saying “pictures say a thousand words”? Well, today I’m going to let the pictures I snapped throughout the day do the talking with the exception of a few captions throughout.
Our first stop was a visit to the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to view the White House.

Next up, we trekked through the National Botanical Gardens. 

After that we headed to the National Archives where we got to see some of the most important documents in our nation’s history. Photography is prohibited inside of the National Archives so as to preserve the items such as the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights which are on display. However, I was able to snap this quick picture of our students on the steps of the National Archives. 

Then we were off to the Capitol for a quick lunch before our tour. Did you know that when you enter the Capitol and go through security you cannot have any water (or other beverage) and no food with you? In addition, other items such as Axe body spray are not allowed and will be confiscated. (For the second year in a row one of our boys had to surrender his Axe body spray when going through security.)
A couple of the boys were enjoying their lunch in the Capitol Cafeteria.
Here we are waiting in line to begin our Capitol tour.
The first part of the Capitol tour is a movie that explains what occurs on Capitol Hill. We learned about the two houses--the Senate and House of Representatives--and how our elected officials work to make laws in their respective houses.
Every state has two statues located somewhere in the Capitol. Doctor Crawford Long, the inventor of ether, is one of Georgia's statues.
Below this star is a tomb that was intended to house George Washington. However, in Washington's will he specified that he wanted to be buried in Vermont where he lived. The tomb continues to lie empty to this day.
The weather on Thursday foiled our plans to visit the memorials so we moved our memorial visit to today. First up was the World War II Memorial.  

Next up was the Lincoln Memorial. To get there we walked along the reflecting pool.
Here are students pausing to read Lincoln's Gettysburg Address which is engraved in one of the walls of the Lincoln Memorial.
The students grabbed a quick photo op in front of Honest Abe.
The students are standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial facing the reflecting pool. The Washington Monument and Capitol are in the distance. They are standing in the exact spot that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr stood when he gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
A quick picture of students' feet surrounding the engraving on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that marks the spot where Dr. King gave his speech.

The last memorial we visited was the Vietnam Memorial. Here is the view we had as we walked towards the Vietnam Memorial. You can see a stage that is still set up from a ceremony on Memorial Day where all the names of the soldiers who were lost or missing in action during the Vietnam War. 
This is the wall which contains the engraved names of all those who either perished or were missing in action during the Vietnam War.
One of our students lost his grandfather during the Vietnam War. Here we paused to check out the book which details what panel and line each soldiers name is on.
We stopped to do a rubbing of Kaleb's grandfather's name on the wall.

Our final stop of the day was to find a shady spot on the National Mall to relax and enjoy dinner. We ordered pizza from We The Pizza and had it delivered to us on the National Mall. Now, you might ask yourself why we ordered pizza in a mall. In this case, the National Mall is not what we commonly refer to as a mall with stores in it; rather, the National Mall is a lawn that ranges from Capitol Hill to the Lincoln Memorial.
While we waited for pizza to arrive we wrote postcards to send to the many people who donated so that this trip could become a reality for our kids.

After a few postcards were written students cut loose with a game of tag.
Everyone was ready to inhale the pizza when it arrived!

Back at the Embassy Suites hotel, students played a few rounds of Headbandz before showering and getting ready for bed.
Tomorrow is our last day in DC. We have one final destination before we head to the airport. Check in tomorrow night to see what our final destination was.