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Maconaquah students travel to Washington, D.C.

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Photos providedON TOUR:Maconaquah Middle School students and chaperones pose at various sites throughout Washington D.C. on the annual eighth grade trip.
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ON TOUR:Maconaquah Middle School students and chaperones pose at various sites throughout Washington D.C. on the annual eighth grade trip.

BY BAILEY ROPES - Public Relations Officer, Maconaquah School Corporation

This is the second year eighth-grade U.S. History teacher Michael Sommers has taken Maconaquah Middle School students on their annual trip to Washington, D.C. to experience the city’s culture, tourism and history. And he says he couldn’t be happier to have taken on the duty. 

“This is such a good experience for the students,” Sommers said recently. “It is one thing to read and learn about history and culture, but it is another thing to be able to experience it first hand.”

In late September, Sommers was able to take a group of 82 students and 21 chaperones on a three-day tour of the U.S. capital.

“My favorite part of the trip was watching the students as we took the evening tour of the memorials (Vietnam, Lincoln, WWII and Korea). It was amazing to see how some of them reacted to the memorials and how some of them just ‘got it,’” he said. “I also loved the trip in general because you could see both students and teachers in a different environment together. Building relationships with students when you only see them for 42 minutes a day is tough, so getting to spend several hours with them and talking about topics that we don’t have time for in the normal school day is great. When we left on the bus Friday night to head home, one of my favorite things to do was just sit back and listen to the students talk about their favorite parts of the trip.”

Many of the students talked about the trip well into the week after returning on Saturday. The general consensus was that it was a trip they won’t forget, with many new experiences and lessons learned about our U.S. history.

“This experience was one of the best times ever,” said Jacob Sayger. “My favorite part of the trip was going to the Holocaust museum. There is so much history in that one museum. Going into it, I was not sure what to expect, but it turned out to be the best part of the whole trip. Overall I was so thankful that I was able to go to Washington, D.C.”

With all of the positive about the trip, Sommers said it is difficult knowing that not everyone can participate.

“I would love for the number of students we take on the trip to grow,” Sommers said. “I know that even though I work really hard to get the lowest cost possible, that some families cannot afford it.”

Any student who wants to go on the trip must pay their own way. The school does not have funding for this sort of expenditure. The hope is that they can eventually find outside funding in the form of grants or donations that might help more students afford to participate in this great experience.

Sommers said he is looking forward to 2020 and taking the year’s new group.