Sixth Form Trip to Washington DC

On 2 January, a group of 10 Tormead Sixth Form students visited Washington DC.  After a long queue at immigration we began our trip in earnest the next day.  Our first Smithsonian museum was the newly opened National Museum of African American History and Culture which told the story of the transatlantic slave trade, civil rights, the election of Barack Obama and the ongoing Black Lives Matter campaign.  This was a truly stunning museum arranged over three floors with many original artefacts.  After lunch, we walked along Pennsylvania Avenue to the National Archives where we were able to see the original Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. In the evening, we enjoyed a trip to Georgetown for shopping and the cinema.

On our second day we visited Congress which happened to coincide with the 11th unsuccessful attempt to choose a new Speaker for the House of Representatives.  We also visited and sat in the Senate Chamber and marvelled at the scale and majesty of the Capitol dome from below.   We then crossed over the road to the Supreme Court and we were able to see the chair of the nine justices who make judgements that have a fundamental impact in US politics and society.  There were also photos of some of the leading justices over the years including Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Thurgood Marshall.  After a rest back at the hotel, we all went to Ella’s pizzeria close to the hotel for our evening meal.

A highlight of the trip for our history pupils was the Smithsonian Air and Space museum which has several exhibits from the space race and Cold War including rockets from the Apollo missions. In the afternoon we visited the National Museum of the American Indian and saw some beautiful glass sculptures that portrayed elements of creation myths from many indigenous tribes.  To end the day, we sat in the warm sunshine beneath the Washington Monument and looked down on the White House and back towards the Capitol building.

Our final day saw us visiting the iconic Lincoln Memorial and sitting on the steps looking up the National Mall. An unexpected treat was seeing a red-tailed hawk at the café later in the day. In the afternoon we had a moving and powerful trip to the Holocaust museum which, amongst many other exhibits, has a cobbled road from the Warsaw ghetto.

Thank you to all the students who were such good company and helped make the trip such a success.

Julian Sykes, Head of Government and Politics

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