During their recent spring break, 8th graders from Canyon Lake Middle School took a trip to Washington D.C. and New York City with the World Strides Discover Now Program.
Dawna Gatrost, who teaches 7th grade Language Arts, Social Studies and the AVID program, put the trip together. From March 27 to 31, 36 students, four staff members and eight chaperones made the most of the five days.
Their journey started at 4 a.m. with a shuttle bus ride to San Diego International Airport. They flew into Baltimore International Airport where they boarded a tour bus and headed straight to Washington D.C. to begin their three-day tour of the nation’s capitol.
Spokesperson Michelle Olzewski says, “A special highlight on our trip was to see the cherry trees in bloom. Each spring the cherry blossoms lining Washington D.C.’s Tidal Basin burst into a beautiful display of floral colors. The peak bloom period only lasts a few days, and exactly when it happens varies each year. So we were very fortunate to see this beautiful display.”
Michelle continues, “We also experienced a little scare while visiting D.C.. when, about 40 minutes after we left the Capitol Building, there was an officer-involved shooting with a man thought to be armed and the building and White House were placed on lockdown. Fortunately for us, we were at Mount Vernon and, with modern technology, we were able to notify all the parents and families that we were all okay.”
Sites the group visited while in Washington D.C. were the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King Memorial, FDR Memorial, Smithsonian Institution, Washington Monument, Mount Vernon, Ford’s Theater, Peterson House, White House (picture stop only), Capitol Building, World War II Memorial, Iwo Jima Memorial, Holocaust Museum and the Pentagon Memorial.
At Arlington Cemetery, America’s most famous military cemetery, they saw the changing of the guard and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and even had the honor of participating in the wreath-laying ceremony.
On March 30, the group boarded a tour bus and drove five hours to New York City. While in the Big Apple, they visited Rockefeller Center, the world’s largest privately-owned business and entertainment complex, and took the “Top of the Rock” tour where they had a panoramic view of the city from all sides.
They walked down Fifth Avenue and saw St. Patrick’s Cathedral. They visited Central Park and had lunch from the food vendors. They took a subway from Manhattan to Battery Park and boarded the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. They visited Ellis Island and the museum that commemorates one of the primary gateways into America for millions of immigrants.
Michelle says their visit to the National 9/11 Memorial “was very emotional and a reminder that we should never forget the lives that were lost that day.”
A theatrical highlight of the trip was seeing “Wicked” at the Gershwin Theater on Broadway. After the show, they walked to Times Square. “The kids were amazed at the crowds, the skyscrapers and noise in the New York City,” says Michelle. “Overall, we had great weather on our entire trip and learned so much about the history of our country.”
The 8th grade students on the trip were Roxie Alexanian, Gavin Floren, Parker Rhodes, Tanner Anderson, Tayler Funk, David Rodriquez, Teah Aston Mayan Goggins, Blake Sapp, Boatman Kayleen, Mekhi Jackson, Abby Signorio, Ryan Borcharrdt, Tyler Lee, Jenna Tighe, Logan Brace, Jonathan McDonald, Willy Urrutia, Christopher Brocky, Austin Moreno, Joseph Vanbuskirk, Allison Byer, Genesis Moreno, Jamie Vicario, Madeline Casey, Alexandra Mortese, Andrew Wells, Kaitlyn Crippen, Sienna Pankratz, Jenny Yzabal, Lauryn Dawes, Cassidy Potter, Salvador Farias Jr, Mary Pumariega, Courtney Finn and Ally Quinn.
The staff members on the trip were Dawna Gatrost, Martin Amador, Joe Quinn and Samantha Luna. The parent/adult chaperones were Debbie Moreno, Linda Bennett, Wendy Signorio, Derek Goggins, Michelle Olszewski, Janna Vicario, Jack Vicario and Jordan Vicario.