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Eighth-Graders Visit Washington, D.C., with an Eye on Ethics

Eighth-Graders Visit Washington, D.C., with an Eye on Ethics

On April 27, eighth-graders traveled to Washington, D.C., for an overnight trip as their next step toward becoming ethical leaders. The itinerary was organized by Alicia Rodriguez, Economics and Financial Literacy Coordinator and Middle School math teacher, to ensure that students would experience the nation’s capital through a lens of ethics, learn how historical leaders leaned on their ethical values when making decisions, and understand the advantages of tradeoffs — that is, when making a choice, one must weigh the benefits of the two best choices, and sacrifice the benefits of the thing not chosen. 

After indulging in a picnic lunch in the National Mall — a large grassy area home to iconic monuments such as the Lincoln Memorial — the students and their chaperones took in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History to explore exhibits in science, social studies, culture, and the arts. 

After a pizza dinner, the students embarked on a two-hour walking tour of the Washington monuments. Under the final rays of the sun, they learned about the history of these landmarks as they were beautifully illuminated with spotlights, and reflected on their meaning and impact in today’s society.

Says eighth-grader Avery Delaney, “I loved seeing all of the monuments at night. It was incredible to learn about past leaders of our country and the different memorials, especially while the sun was setting, making the sky a rainbow.”

“A highlight for the group,” says Ms. Rodriguez, “was the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and learning about the artist's decision to use white granite because of the way it ages into a dark, multicolored material, and that the memorial was left unfinished to show that Dr. King’s work was unfinished.”

Day two was packed with experiences centering on the impacts of history on the movements and culture that are alive today. Students participated in a powerful “Voices of Social Justice” tour of the National Portrait Gallery, where they viewed paintings of influential figures, among them that of First Lady Michelle Obama.

“At the gallery, I saw portraits of so many people, from presidents and civil rights leaders, to people I had never heard of before,” says Avery. “Learning about these incredible people and their different leadership styles changed my perspective on how these individuals have impacted the world we live in today.” 

The group concluded their Washington, D.C. trip with a visit to the National Archives, a tour of the Library of Congress, and lunch before boarding the bus back to campus. The eighth-graders returned to Kent Place with new knowledge of history, different perspectives, a greater understanding of ethical leadership, stronger bonds with one another — and tired feet to remind them of their experience.