Holbrook Students Get a Taste of History and Government in Washington DC


Thomas Denny

Holbrook students participated in the wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Sarah Ryan, News Section Editor

Students from Holbrook High’s classes of 2019 and 2020, accompanied by Dr. DeMello, Ms. Gallagher, Ms. Grant, and Mr. Zahm. left for Washington D.C. on Thursday, November 17th. The four-day trip to our nation’s capital is both an educational and enjoyable endeavor for the students. Holbrook students are continuing to learn about the history of our nation while bonding with their peers.

Students departed from the high school at 6:45 on Thursday morning, and endured a ten-hour bus ride to their hotel. The group has been staying at the Holiday Inn Express in Silver Spring, Maryland.

The “adventure” into the city began with a stop at Georgetown Cupcakes, which has been featured on the TLC program “DC Cupcakes.” After purchasing their desserts, the group enjoyed a family-style Italian dinner at Boca di Beppo. Students were served pasta with either alfredo sauce or tomato sauce, and chicken parmesan.

The night came to a close as students visited the Jefferson Memorial, Franklin Delano Rosevelt Memorial, and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. The group discussed the assets of these figures, such as their strong leadership, as well as their faults, such as Thomas Jefferson being a slave owner.

On Friday morning the students arrived at the Smithsonian National Zoo at 8 am. Students were especially excited to visit the Giant Panda Exhibit, as this is one of the only zoos where they can be found in the United States. Students also viewed elephants, cheetahs, gorillas, and several other animals.

After having lunch at the zoo, the group made their way to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Students had been expressing their excitement about this visit for several months. When they arrived at the museum, students were given identification cards that listed a victim of the holocaust. There was a diverse group of victims including Jewish people, Roma (Gypsies), homosexuals, Catholic priests, etc. Students were able to follow the story of their individual, and in the end, they would read whether or not their person survived the war.

The only downside of the museum visit was the fact that students didn’t have as much time as they would have liked. “There was so much more to see,” says sophomore, Amanda West, “I would definitely like to go back on my own.” Despite this, students did have a powerful experience at the museum. The group was able to see the shoes that were taken from the Jewish people, a replica of the door to a gas chamber, and the barracks from concentration camps. Students agreed that seeing the remnants of the war was much different than just reading about it in class.

Following their museum visit, the group went on a tour of the Capitol Building. The tour began with a film explaining the history of it – including the reconstruction of the Capitol Building after the War of 1812. Following the movie, Holbrook students were guided through parts of the building, including the Rotunda and the Old Senate Chamber.

The Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress was the next stop on their trip. Students learned that Thomas Jefferson sold his personal library to the government in 1815 after the original library was destroyed. The group was able to see many of his personal books, which are featured in their own section of the library.

The final stop on the trip was an illuminated tour of the monuments. Holbrook students were able to visit the World War II Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, and the Vietnam War Memorial. The group was especially proud to honor Paul Joseph Surette PFC – a soldier from Holbrook, MA – at the Vietnam Wall. There will be more information on this local veteran to follow.

UPDATED: November 29, 2016

On Saturday morning, students departed for Arlington National Cemetery. This is referred to as the “nation’s most hallowed ground” because it is the final resting place for thousands of veterans. Two presidents – John F. Kennedy and William Taft – are also buried in the cemetery.

Four freshmen from Holbrook Jr. Sr. High School were also able to participate in a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This the final resting place of veterans who could not be identified post-war. The original tomb held a soldier from World War I, and additional graves have been added for veterans from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

Following the ceremonial changing of the guard, a wreath is laid at the tomb. Rachel Cohan, Monica Polycarpe, Mickayla Brugger, and Ross Vonflyer were able to present this wreath on November 19th.

The group was also able to visit Mount Vernon on Saturday. This was the plantation of George Washington and his wife Martha. The students toured his mansion, the slave quarters, and other areas on the property.

The Air and Space Museum was the next stop that day. At this museum, they could see the Wright Brothers exhibit, the Enterprise from Star Trek, and even try out a space simulator. The group also watched the 3D IMAX film “A Beautiful Planet,” which was narrated by Jennifer Lawerence.

At this point, the trip was off-schedule, and the group would have a limited time at the National Museum of American History. In an attempt to get there as quickly as possible, students ran through the rain in the National Mall. The museum closed at 5:45, and students had about an hour to see as much as they could. This museum is home to hundreds of different artifacts, including the inaugural dresses of the First Ladies and the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz.

Dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe was actually one of the highlights of the trip for some students. Everyone sang along to songs like “Don’t Stop Believin'” and “Apple Bottom Jeans.” They also celebrated Ms. Grant’s “birthday” with the restaurant staff.

The last stop of the night was to the 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon. This was a solemn and emotional moment for the group. The chaperones will never forget the day of the tragedy, and the students will always know that this was an event that defined their lives as it was just beginning.

Sunday was the last day of the trip. Students were able to visit Ford’s Theater, where President Lincoln was assassinated in 1865. They were given a brief history of the theater – which is still functioning – and saw a recreation of the box where the president was killed.

This trip was an amazing opportunity for the students of Holbrook Jr. Sr. High School. They were able to learn more about the history of our country while bonding with their peers. It was definitely an unforgettable weekend.