Fifteen Hernandez Middle School students were among the hundreds of thousands who witnessed the 45th presidential inauguration at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Students did everything from raking leaves to babysitting to raise the $2,300 required for the trip. Along with their chaperones, Hernandez Librarian Wendy Tucker, and Desiree Le, International Baccalaureate (IB) coordinator, students spent an entire week in D.C. visiting colonial Williamsburg and historical landmarks at the nation’s capital. A personal tour guide traveled with the group during the day providing a detailed account of United States history.
“When you are learning about history from a book, it feels like we are just studying another dead person that you have to remember for a test,” said Emma Stanley, Hernandez eighth-grade student. “When you’re there, it’s so much more relevant. I couldn’t believe that I stood in the same place as our founding fathers. It was an incredible experience and I will never look at the 1800’s the same way.”
Le said the trip made history come to life and she intentionally chose eighth-grade students for the experience because it covered many of the social studies Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills.
Students also learned some real life lessons on the day of the inauguration. Getting up at 4:30 a.m., the group had no idea that it would take several hours and a five-mile walk to witness President Donald J. Trump’s swearing in.
“I was surprised at how peaceful the transition of power was,” Emma said. “We walked in and Obama was president and walked out and Trump was president. I thought it would be a much bigger show.”
Hernandez students saw the first amendment in action as protesters filled the streets along with police and the national guard.
“I was shocked at how many protesters there were,” said Kari Santistevan, Hernandez eighth-grade student. “You could sense their emotions and how important it was for them to be able to be heard.”
Andre Tabuco, a classmate of Kari’s said that he agreed that we should have the right to protest, but not the right to be destructive. This lead to much discussion among the group about what was and what was not a first amendment right.
Tucker said all fifteen students will put together presentations to teach their peers what they learned in Washington, D.C.
“When I was in eighth grade, my class went on a trip to D.C. and I was able to lay the wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,” Tucker said. “It’s an experience that I will always treasure and I know this trip will be something that these students will never forget. I feel honored to be a part of making this trip happen for our students.”
Tucker and Le said they hope to make more trips like this one to make learning relevant for students.
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