The eighth-grade students at Epstein Hillel School in Marblehead can tell you exactly how many miles of walking and how many modes of transportation will get you around Washington, D.C., in four jam-packed days of activities. (In case you were wondering: 32 miles, six types of transportation.) From Smithsonian Museums to a moonlit tour of the National Monuments to an evening at the theater, these teens had a class trip to remember.
The May trip was both a celebration of the students’ upcoming graduation as well as a culmination of their secular and Jewish education from the past nine years.
Among the many stops on the itinerary were the U.S. Holocaust Museum; the World War II Memorial; the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial; and the National Museum of African American History & Culture. “I was impressed with the students’ show of respect and reflection, both of their own history and of the history of others,” said chaperone and middle school teacher Sarah Boland.
Student Noa Brochstein added, “Our background from our social studies curriculum made these museums even more meaningful.”
Amy Gold, Epstein Hillel head of school, had a similar observation while visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. “We debriefed about America’s complex response to the Vietnam War. The students were incredibly insightful and compassionate in this discussion, and they showed a sincere reverence for a group of veterans who were visiting the memorial along with us,” she said.
“Our class was really respectul,” agreed student Jamison Moore. “We were able to have serious, productive discussions about what we were experiencing.”
As a counterpoint to the more academic experiences in D.C., the group from Epstein Hillel School rounded out its itinerary with fun outings, including a Washington Nationals game; seeing “Hairspray” at the National Theatre; the immersive Van Gogh exhibit at the Rhode Island Center; and paddle-boating in the Tidal Basin off the Potomac River.
“The kids really absorbed the art and culture of Washington, D.C.,” said Gold. “They showed a true appreciation for this very unique city.”
“I loved how easy it was for our class to enjoy this trip together,” said student Eliana Berger. “There weren’t even any complaints about all the walking.”
Without a doubt, the trip was educational, fun … and monumental. (Pun intended.)