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DC trip teaches students their role in bringing change

Participants on the Worthington Middle School eighth-grade field trip to Washington stand in front of the White House earlier this month. (Special to The Globe)

By Sarah Darling, District 518

“We have dreams of America THE NATION of opportunity, the land of promise.  We work and move and struggle to realize our dreams.  WE BUILD, we rebuild. We succeed, we fall. We agree, we disagree.  We change. We learn. We make the United States TOGETHER.” Smithsonian American History Museum

“We the people” — the first words to our Constitution and the foundation of our democracy. Before we left on our annual eighth-grade trip to Washington, D.C., I had time to reflect on this phrase, as it’s the theme for this year’s Spirit of Worthington Marching Band show that my daughter is part of. Through the course of this year’s trip, those words kept coming back to me.

Last week, 30 students and seven adults traveled to Washington to see and experience our nation’s capital. We visited monuments, memorials and museums. We learned, laughed, ate, bought lots of souvenirs, took hundreds of pictures and sent thousands of snaps!

Travel opens our eyes to a world bigger than our own backyard. The Holocaust Museum is emotionally powerful, but always ranks as one of the kids’ favorites. It is there that they see that when we the people join together, we have the power to hurt and the power to heal. Going through Arlington National Cemetery to see the gravesites and view the changing of the guard at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier memorizes them. It is here that they see that we the people have the power to build up and to destroy. When we met a large group of Honor Flight veterans at the World War II Memorial, it showed us that we the people have the power to believe and to sacrifice. When we are at Mt. Vernon visiting George Washington’s home, we realize that we the people have the power to grow and dream. When we are viewing the stone of hope at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, we visualize that we the people have the power to stand tall and break through challenges.

Together we all play a part of changing the world, and my goal with this trip is that the kids can see their role in the process. Our trip is more than pictures and souvenirs. It’s about growing through shared experiences that make us see, feel, laugh and inspire. They come home exhausted and with a full heart as they have connected to their classmates, their history and their country. After 15 years I still love the DC trip, and can’t wait to go again next year!  

Sarah Darling is an eighth-grade social studies teacher at Worthington Middle School.