8th Graders Walk in Footsteps of Colonial History: American Peoples' Tour 2012
By B. Rosen
The sixteenth annual 8th grade trip to Colonial Virginia is not only a time for bonding, but it is also a capstone to the three year Core course of study,” explains Leslie Pugach, a member of Barrack’s Middle and Upper School faculty. This academic program began in sixth grade with archaeological origins of Western democracy in the ancient world, then in seventh grade traveled to the United States where a unique constitutional republic was tested, and ended in eighth grade with a look at how this incredible constitutional system has embraced American Peoples. In the words of an eighth grade student, this trip “was the best learning experience I ever had.”
The trip included a tour of Historic Jamestowne, a National Park site; a visit to the Great Hopes Plantation where the group experienced an event filled with African drum music, singing, slave songs, and dance; a day at Colonial Williamsburg, visiting the colonial shops, the Capitol Building, the gaol (jail), the Randolph House with its slave quarters and out buildings, and, of course, the Governor’s Palace. After the formal tours, students broke into small groups and spoke with colonial enactors. The group’s last evening together included a birthday celebration for one of the students, as well as a screening of the film The Great Debaters, which will be discussed in Core classes during the next few weeks. Students and chaperones stayed at the JCC, which “was genuinely...comfortable...providing delicious food, a comfortable sleeping environment, and plenty of entertainment.”
As they headed north towards home, the students watched the film Remember the Titans, which will also provide food for discussions about the Civil Rights movement. At the suggestion of the marvelous bus driver, Milton, they stopped at the new Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, where students read portions of Dr. King’s stirring speeches that are carved into the monument. The consensus of our 8th graders: “This trip was an amazing experience in many different ways. Not only did we learn, but we also had a ton of fun.” Alex Fisher, Jenna Ferman, Molly Kassel, Ari Sussman and Hannah Turtz, Barrack seniors, accompanied the students, along with adult chaperones Christine Farrell, Leslie Pugach, and Laura Farrell.