Classroom moves to Washington: Tenth-graders go on a learning adventure

Ten Milaca 10th graders who went to Washington, D.C. on a four-day history trip, are pictured in front of the White House, one of many historic sites they visited on the trip. Photo provided

Ten Milaca 10th graders who went to Washington, D.C. on a four-day history trip, are pictured in front of the White House, one of many historic sites they visited on the trip.
Photo provided

When a group of Milaca 10th-graders look back on their 2013-14 school year, it just might be highlighted by a learning experience that took place thousands of miles from their hometown.
In early April, Milaca social studies teacher Colleen Bell took 10 10th-graders to Washington, D.C., for a four-day excursion.
The students traded in school buses for a tour bus, and their classrooms weren’t found on Highway 23 in Milaca but at national landmarks such Mount Vernon, the White House and the U.S. Capitol building.
Student Anthony Oelrich said the trip was the experience of a lifetime.
“I saw tons of fascinating history. I wish we didn’t have to leave,” Anthony said.
The students left Milaca High School at 3:45 a.m. on a Saturday morning and returned on a Tuesday at about 11 p.m., Bell said.
What happened between those times was one of the best learning experiences the students say they may have ever had.
Imagine being in Milaca in the dark of the early morning and flying into Reagan International Airport outside of Washington, D.C. By 10:30 you’re on a rail transit system called the Metro, heading toward the Federal Triangle and the Reagan Trade Center.
That’s what the 10 Milaca students did on that Saturday morning. They soon met up with a number of eighth-graders from Woodville, Texas. The two groups of students then spent the next few days on a well-planned tour, through a company called World Strides that strictly does student tours. The group was led by a tour guide who originally hailed from England who has been leading the tours for about 30 years, Bell said.
In addition to visiting Mount Vernon, the White House, the Reagan Trade Center and the U.S. Capitol building, other stops of interest included the Ford Theater, the Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson memorials, the Pentagon Memorial, Kennedy Center for the Arts, the Watergate Hotel, the Supreme Court and the Holocaust Memorial. On their last day in Washington, a Tuesday, they visited the Capitol Zoo, the Smithsonian Institute, and the hotel that former President Ronald Reagan was shot outside off. They then flew home later that day, Bell said.
Said student Molly Banks, “It was an amazing experience and so much fun.”
Brody Sather said it was a great learning experience.
“Amazing,” is how Breanna Salgren described the trip.
“It was definitely the highlight of my year,” said student Dylan Hakes. Carrie Rosenberg said she would definitely go on the trip again if she could.
Mary Paul also said it was an amazing trip.
“I learned a lot and had tons of fun,” Mary said.
Bell will be meeting with Milaca ninth-graders in the near future to start the process rolling on the trip for next year’s 10th-graders, she said.
Time is needed to get signed up and get a date commitment through the tour company and to participate in fundraisers that help make the trip possible.
For the most recent trip, students undertook two Heggie’s Pizza fund-raisers that helped pay for the trip. A recent volleyball scramble held at the school helped pay for the bus to and from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Bell said.

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