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A Trip of a Lifetime

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On Monday, May 27, Memorial Day, at 11:00 pm, 14 students and three sponsors boarded the yellow school bus bound for the Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport, destination, Washington, D.C. 
Students making the trip this year were Reid Mathias, Charley Maune, Paige Haslett, Adalyn Urie, Rylan Bloyd, Jozie Luebbers, Clare Loder, Sandra Einspahr, Gavin Grilliot, Camden Finlay, Aspen Banning, Memphis Kudor, Joel Marquez, and Adrieliz Marquez. Adults accompanying the students were event organizer, Kaylee Schwieterman, Jessie Bloyd, and Daliz Oquendo-Marquez. 
Students learn about the trip before the end of their seventh-grade year, so they have time to decide if it is something they can do. The students are responsible for their own expenses and have several months to raise the funds to go.   
Departing Wichita in the early morning Tuesday, May 28, they met up with students from Haysville and Clay Center to begin their tour with World Strides tour group. 
Arriving in DC, the weary, anxious, excited students and adults began the tour. First stop was the Holocaust Museum. This was Joel’s favorite because it was very real with all the issues happening in today’s world. 
Joel said, “It was neat to see the things that they had been taught in school.” Mathias added, “It felt like you should not talk while going through it.” 
That same day, they visited the 9/11 Memorial which was Luebber’s favorite. “There are one hundred eighty-four benches outside of the Pentagon representing those who died.” 
She explained the benches pointing towards the Pentagon building represented those who died because they were in the plane. Benches pointing away from the building represented those who were killed while working in the building. “I loved how the builders of the memorial found a way to specially remember everyone,” she added. 
Daliz saw the Honor Flight veterans at the Pentagon Memorial, and she thanked a couple of them. “One told me no need to thank me, you are worth defending and the other one said no need to thank me, just live a life worth defending!” 
They continued their sightseeing, visiting Albert Einstein, WWll, Vietnam and Korean War, and Lincoln Memorials. 
Urie said the Lincoln Memorial impressed her the most, “It was very large, and we went there at sunset so it was gorgeous, and you could see the Washington Monument from there.”
Einspahr agreed. “The Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial were really impressive.”
Mathias said the one thing that stood out for him was how large the Washington Monument was, “Everything was cool!”
Day two they visited the National Portrait Gallery, World War 1 Memorial, National Archives, and went on a tour of the White House, something they have not had the opportunity to do in the past. 
Museums they visited that day were the Museum of Natural History, and Museum of American History. That evening, the students dressed up to attend Sheer Madness, an interactive murder mystery at the Kennedy Center. 
Day three they visited the Martin Luther King, Jefferson and United States Marine Memorials, and Arlington National Cemetery. Then traveled to Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, a favorite of Bloyd because of the view overlooking the Potomac River, “It was so beautiful!” she added. 
Their travels continued to the National Museum of the United States Army. “This was my favorite museum!” said Finlay. Their next stop was another of his favorites, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. “It was one of the coolest things! They fit so much information carved into the wall, instead of standing and reading at the kiosk,” Camden added. 
Day four agenda included the Capitol Tour, Grilliot said, “The capitol was really impressive to me because of the size of the dome and all of the artwork.” Next was the Air and Space Museum, one of Adrieliz’ favorite while Paige Haslett’s favorite stop was the Library of Congress “Because of the architectural design on the inside.”  
Several students enjoyed the tour bus ride, Urie and Grilliot enjoyed making memories with the other students, “Especially with our bus driver Mrs. Genie. We had late night music sessions with the whole bus singing,” said Grilliot.
Banning said the guides were amazing and able to answer any questions they had. “It was all amazing!” 
Urie enjoyed meeting the other people from Kansas, “Getting to hear about some of the things they learn in their schools or things they have at their schools that we do not since they came from bigger schools.”  
Urie added, “I am honored to live in a community with so much support and that people are willing to donate money for kids to get to go places.” 
She is also thankful for the sponsors who went with them, especially Schwieterman, “For taking us on this amazing trip! And taking such good care of me while I was sick,” she added.
Luebbers said, “Going on the DC trip was one of the most eye-opening experiences I’ve ever had, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.” 
Luebbers said during the first part of the trip, they rarely talked to anyone from the other schools. “But by the third day we were all getting along, and it made it so much more memorable and fun.”  
Kuder said, “Every aspect of the trip impressed me, making it a truly memorable experience. However, the highlight for me was spending quality time with my friends while exploring the sites.”
Kuder added, “I wholeheartedly recommend this trip to future students. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, allowing you to visit one of the most iconic landmarks in United States history, and it has the potential to make a significant impact on you.”
Many students agreed the money and fundraising efforts were worth it, recommending every student to take advantage of the opportunity. But Mathias added, “It’s a lot of walking so be prepared, and its fast paced!” 
Bloyd added, “What you normally just see on the television, and then seeing the iconic monuments in-person was the most impactful experience for me.” 
Daliz said, “Our nation’s capital is so full of history!” 
Son Joel came home and told his dad that they needed to go back on a family vacation and have more time in the museums, saying it was the trip of a lifetime! 
Schwieterman added, “We took an awesome group this year. A lot of history buffs really took in all the sights and information. I am always grateful to get to travel with our eight graders, they’re such good representatives of our community.” 
Approximately 63,818 steps, over 27 miles, visiting 26 monuments in addition to museums and tours, and a challenging 17 hours to get back home, not one student mentioned anything about those statistics being a downside of the trip.

 

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