Call me crazy, but I just returned from a trip to Washington, DC with a handful of adults and 140 eighth graders, thirteen and fourteen years old. Oh yeah, I teach middle school. We had four bus-loads of hormones and attitudes for four days of fun in our nation’s capital. We started out at 5am on a Tuesday morning loading buses and saying good-bye to a group of tearful (yes, tearful) parents. Now, I do not know if they were tears of sadness or tears of joy, but in having taught some of these little darlings I have my suspicions. Anyway, we hit the road at around 5:30 with a group of sleepy boys and girls and it was quiet. Well, it was for about two hours. Gradually, they started to wake-up, so within about fifteen minutes all 30-some students on my bus were awake, eating snacks and talking.
About 5 hours later, with a couple of restroom breaks and lunch, we arrived in Washington. If you can ignore the fact that there was a little vomit, an upset stomach or two and the beginning of some girl drama it was a pretty uneventful trip up.
Once we arrived, the weather decided to turn against us. First it was cold. That evening, it started to snow. We were predicted to get anywhere from four to eight inches. The next morning we woke to about five inches of snow. We were around 30 minutes outside of DC, so were didn’t know what to expect once we got into Washington.
The first thing we were told was that all government offices were shut down but maybe the museums would be open. Our government actually shut down due to a little snow. We arrived in DC proper around 9:30 and it was snowing like crazy. Luckily, it was mixed with rain so it was melting as soon as it hit the ground. The bad part was that it was mixed with rain so everywhere we walked we got soaked. Not too bad if you wore the right clothing. Anyway, the Air and Space museum opened at ten, so we had the run of the place for a couple of hours. Visiting another museum proved to be wet and cold.
Here is what I do not understand. Why don’t parents check behind their children who are packing for a trip to make sure they are taking the right clothing and protective gear? Before we left home we had a meeting with parents and explained that we were going up north during the winter-time and what the weather was going to be like. It seemed like maybe they didn’t pay attention any more than their kids did. We had kids pack shorts, light wind pants, cute outfits and sweatshirts. Only a few had winter coats, fewer had gloves or warm socks, and even less had anything other than one pair of tennis shoes.
Back to DC. We were flexible and adjusted to schedule changes. We were still were able to see many of the sights that DC has to offer, like the Newseum, Ford’s Theater, The Capital, the Holocaust Museum and Arlington. We also visited the memorials along the DC mall. The night before we left we even had a dance and pizza party and fun was had by all. Anyway, we all made it home safe and sound, welcomed by the fact that daylight savings time would start that weekend. Boy, am I tired.
If you ever get the opportunity to visit the nation’s capital, I would highly recommend it (just not with 140 teens).
By the way, in Arlington National Cemetery the wind is always blowing, but I find that to be true at any graveyard. Once you walk the thirty minutes to get to the top to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, you really notice the wind, particularly if you didn’t dress for the occasion. Ask our kids!
***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo.