Gettysburg & D.C. Excursion Humbling, Insightful for 8th-Graders

Posted on May 17th, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

Allendale Columbia’s 8th-graders traveled to Gettysburg and Washington, D.C. in early May as the culmination of their Middle School experience, with many tie-ins to their Capstone Project. First, they visited the Gettysburg Civil War battlefield where more than 50,000 Americans lost their lives. The visit dovetailed perfectly with the class’s studies, and, as one 8th-grader said, “Being there really helped me comprehend what happened.” Mr. Seth Hopkins, a Civil War buff, guided our bus tour, providing colorful commentary on Gettysburg’s significance and on the considerable sacrifices made by Upstate New York regiments.

In D.C., the 8th-graders spent two days exploring museums on the National Mall, including the National Gallery of Art, National Museum of American History, National Air & Space Museum, National Museum of the American Indian, and the National Museum of Natural History.

A first for AC was a visit to the new National Museum of African American History & Culture. Students connected to their studies of slavery’s origins in the Americas, Abolitionism, and the Civil War, as well as to the African American experience during both World Wars. “I learned about how the African slave trade was started. Seeing actual slave shackles helped me gain a  better understanding of how badly they were treated,” noted one student. Another explained, “At Gettysburg, we learned how African Americans took up arms to fight for their freedom. When we visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture, I was surprised to learn that African American soldiers did the same thing during the Revolutionary War.”

Another highlight was the new “Americans and the Holocaust” exhibit at the U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, introduced by Jeffrey Parker, a Rochesterian who now heads the museum’s education program. Finally, students were awed and inspired by night visits to the Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, Martin Luther King, Jr., Vietnam, Korean, and WWII memorials. “When we saw all of the small names listed on the Vietnam Memorial,” said a student, “we found it both sad and shocking, especially as we thought about the fact that most soldiers were only a few years older than we are now.”

Another important facet of this trip was the bonding among students encouraged by both the long bus ride and our overnight facilities. By limiting electronic device usage to only photos and calls home, students conversed, played games, and got to know each other better. “I actually liked that rule in the end,” said one of the students. “It forced us to talk to each other!” Students also benefited from staying at a Boy Scout camp. They played outside, hung out and made s’mores around a campfire, cooked breakfast, packed their own lunches, and then cleaned up after themselves before we left. The trip was an action-packed three days that our 8th-graders will remember for a lifetime!

 

Andrew Ragan

Andrew Ragan

Andrew came to teach Middle School History at Allendale Columbia School after 20 years in educational publishing and living in Pittsburgh, New York City, Los Angeles, Toronto, and the Adirondacks. He began writing for young people at Junior Scholastic magazine and has since published hundreds of articles in such magazines as JS, Scholastic News, Disney Adventures, Creative Classroom, and more. After teaching freshman composition at the University of Southern California for several years, Andrew served as the Senior Editor for Disney Adventures Magazine. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and Communications, with honors, from Carnegie Mellon University and his master's degree in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.
Deanna Interlicchia

Deanna Interlicchia

Deanna graduated from St. John Fisher College with a bachelor's degree in Adolescent English Education and went on to get her master's degree from SUNY Brockport in English Literature. She joined Allendale Columbia in 2007 from Freddie Thomas Learning Center where she student taught, and Canandaigua Middle School before that.
Teresa Parsons

Teresa Parsons

Teresa joined the Allendale Columbia team as a Middle School STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) teacher after spending 15 years in the engineering industry. She was a product engineer, then she transitioned into marketing and business development. As a business development manager, she created and provided product training, and it was in that role that she discovered her passion for teaching. Teresa earned a Master of Science Degree in Education from Nazareth College, and also holds two bachelor's degrees in Interdisciplinary Engineering/Management from Clarkson University and in Physics from the State University of New York College at Geneseo.
Seth Hopkins

Seth Hopkins

Seth brings 22 years of teaching experience at the Middle and High School level from Wellsville Central School District, The Charter School for Science and Technology, and most recently, The Norman Howard School. Seth holds a CAS in Educational Administration from The State University of New York College at Brockport, an MS in Adolescent Education in English from The State University of New York College at Geneseo, and a BA in History from The State University of New York at Stony Brook. Seth also holds New York State Certifications in Social Studies (Grades 7-12), English (Grades 7-12), Students with Disabilities (Grades 7-12), School Building Leader, and School District Leader. Additionally, Seth has been involved with grant writing efforts and curriculum development, and has served on a variety of professional committees.
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Posted in: Authentic Learning, Eighth Grade, Highlights, Middle School

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