By Shanelle Poole’15 and Shanelle Lindo’15
It was a regular day for most students, but not for the seniors in the Gilder Lehrman program. On May 21, seniors packed up and headed to Washington D.C., for the annual trip. The seniors would finally be able to see monuments and museums dedicated to the topics they studied since freshman year.
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History was founded by Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman in 1994. The program is nonprofit, and for the past 20 years it has helped to improve history education in schools across the nation.
“Gilder Lehrman is important because it’s a great opportunity to learn more about the history of our country,” said Ms. Cecilia Manno.
About six years ago, Gilder Lehrman pulled their funding from the Washington, D.C. trip and this left the history teachers with a big decision. They would have to cancel the trip, or they would have to find a way to come up with the money.
“The students are promised a free trip and even though Gilder Lehrman pulled their funding, a promise is a promise,” said Mr. Matthew Bonavita. “It’s either we try to fulfill the promise or we fail, either way we have to try.”
For the past six years, Mr. Bonavita, along with the U.S. history teachers have created fundraisers to be able to fulfill that promise. Mr. Bonavita’s company, Rhythm in Motion, was able to raise $7,000, which allowed the students to take the trip to Washington, D.C.
The seniors ditched their textbooks and left for the overnight trip with Mr. Bonnavita, Ms. Kendra Lane and Mr. Eugene Resnick as their chaperones. The students endured the four hour ride and ended up in the capital.
In Washington D.C., there were many exciting places to see. The World War II Memorial was one of them. It has two different sides, the Atlantic and the Pacific. There are statues lined up that represent the men who fought in the war. At the Vietnam Wall, the students were able to see the names of hundreds of thousands of men who fought in the war. Their names were carved in a glass wall.
“All of the memorials were amazing, but the Vietnam Wall was very heartbreaking,” said Damar Ramirez’14. “It had a
lot of meaning because I had already taken a whole class on the history of Vietnam.”
The Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial is a walk-through memorial. It shows the president through his four terms in office along with quotes. The Martin Luther King Memorial is a giant statue with quotes from his many speeches. Seniors also got a chance to visit the Abraham Lincoln Statue, whose steps have been a part of history’s greatest moments.
“My favorite part of the trip was standing in front of the Abraham Lincoln statue,” said Briana Mendoza’14. “I actually stood in the same place that Martin Luther King gave his
I Have a Dream speech. That’s pretty cool.”
At the Air and Space Museum, the students learned about the first airplanes. Here, the students got to see the different aircrafts that were apart of various wars. The Museum of National History gave the students another history lesson. They learned about the origin of the flag and received insight on the wars that America fought in. Students also visited the Holocaust Museum and went to the White House. Of course they couldn’t get that close to the president’s home, but that didn’t stop them from taking a lot of pictures.
“It was great because we got to see and experience a lot of the topics we learned about,” said Hope Harris’14. “It was a great trip.”
The trip was a success and was very beneficial to the seniors. They left Washington D.C., with a new found love of history.
“History is important to who we were and who we are going to be,” said Mr. Bonnavita.