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Moulton Advertiser | Having a great time in D.C.

May 30, 2013
In The News

Having a great time in D.C.
By Ginger Grantham | Moulton Advertiser | May 30, 2013



It was an educational trip to Washington D.C. this spring for members of the Beta Club at Lawrence County High School.

But don't think "educational" made the trip dull and boring. As a matter of fact, the kids and teachers had a ball and are ready for another adventure.

"It was a trip to reward our Beta Club members for being good students and staying out of trouble," said teacher Gina McCarley. "We planned for the trip for two years."

The idea for the trip came from a suggestion by Lawrence County High Principal Jean Howard.

McCarley and Gabe Willis, another LCHS teacher, wanted to make sure the students on the trip got everything they could out of the experience. That required a little help for an outside source. McCarley had only been to Washington once and that was last year when the school won the Samsung competition. Willis, who had minored in history, had never been.

The two turned to an educational field trip company for help and hit the jackpot.

"Our guide was wonderful," McCarley said. "He kept us on the go, most of the time from 7 or 8 a.m. to 7 or 8 p.m."

"I learned more from our guide during the trip than I ever learned in a history classroom," Willis said.

The guide's approach to his job made the trip a delight for the students. One of the students even recognized the guide.

"Our guide took part in a documentary that the students had seen in an American History class this fall," McCarley said. "One student recognized the voice first and then asked the guide about the documentary."

McCarley said the guide seemed to know when to have the students at a certain spot at just the right time.

The students were in Washington from April 29 to May 2. That was during the time that the Bible was being read for 90 hours on the Capitol steps.

"When we got there, a man was reading and I thought he looked familiar," McCarley said. "Then I realized it was Congressman Robert Aderholt from Alabama who was reading. Our Congressman."

The students and teachers took the opportunity to read for several minutes.

The Beta Club students were from grades 9 to 12. The trip seemed to put things in prospective for the students. They were walking around places they had only seen before on television. They even saw several protesters including one protester at the White House who has been protesting there for more than 30 years.

Visiting the Smithsonian museums and the National Cathedral delighted the students who had seen these places in various movies including the "National Treasure" films.

The guide had a great time with the students at Mt. Vernon. When he talked about what was myth and what was truth about George Washington, the students already knew about what was only myth.

The students had great fun sightseeing. They even climbed on the statue of Albert Einstein.

But there were more somber moments, too. They saw homeless veterans at the World War II Memorial. They helped Willis trace the name of a relative at the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

"When we went to the place at the Pentagon where the plane hit on 9-11, the students were quiet and solemn," Willis said.

At the Ford Theatre, the students not only saw where Abraham Lincoln  was shot and died but they learned more about John Wilkes Booth.

"The guide explained that Booth was not just some crackpot, but a man from a well-respected family of actors," McCarley said. "He explained how Booth's actions nearly destroyed the family."

There were 18 people on the trip – 14 students, two teachers and two parents. The group flew to Washington and it was a first time to fly for over half of them. The trip was less expensive than they thought it was going to be.

"It was $1,400, all inclusive," McCarley said. "Gabe did a great job negotiating the price."

This is not a one time adventure for McCarley and Willis. They are hoping to make a trip an annual event for Beta Club students.

"If we can get permission from the Board of Education, we want to go to New York next year," Willis said.

"Some of our students who are seniors this year want to go with us next year," McCarley said.

McCarley and Willis were very proud of how the LCHS students behaved on the trip.

"Our guide told us that our kids were some of the best behaved students he had ever seen and he would be happy to be our guide again," McCarley said. "Our students knew how to act. There were even some adults at Mt. Vernon who were wild."

All in all, a good time was had by all.


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