Deaf Middle School Students Take in Washington DC Sights

Deaf Middle School 8th graders posing for photo with the U.S. Capitol building in the background.

Twenty eighth-graders in the FSDB Deaf Middle School and six staff members left St. Augustine in December 2019 en route to Colonial Williamsburg and Washington, DC, on their annual Government in Action field trip. Students explored colonial settlements, historic landmarks, and national monuments that they studied in their seventh-grade Civics and 8th grade US History classes.

The first day opened with a tour of historic Jamestown settlement in Jamestown, VA. Students explored the Powhatan Indian village and ways of life via artifacts and interactions with live actors. We visited an English settlement in the Jamestown fort and walked aboard the three replica ships that carried settlers to North America in 1607. We visited Colonial Williamsburg nearby where students learned from costumed guides about colonial government, business, crime and punishment, and olde English phrases like “street apples” left by horses in the road (don’t tread on them!).

Click here to view photos of our trip.

Deaf Middle School students pose for photo in front of a statue.

On the second day, we visited the historic Ford’s Theatre, where President Lincoln was infamously shot. Students were fascinated by the theater museum that showed a history of Lincoln’s life and achievements, the infamous pistol that took his life, and the theatre box where the tragedy occurred. Next, we stopped at the first signing Starbucks where everyone enjoyed being able to order hot chocolate independently in ASL and converse with deaf baristas. From there, we journeyed to Gallaudet University for a personalized tour of the campus. We were able to meet briefly with recent FSDB graduates now attending the school, as well as former FSDB teacher, Jessica Stultz! The rest of the day was filled touring Washington DC proper with stops at the Capitol and various memorials, including the Lincoln, Jefferson, Martin Luther King, Korean Veterans, and Vietnam Veterans memorials. We finished the day with a ride on the Metro subway ten stories below ground!

On our final day in DC, students visited Arlington National Cemetery and viewed the changing of the guard ceremony. Students were impressed with the vastness of the cemetery and the rigid rules placed on the soldiers guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. They were also enamored with the size of the nearby Marine Corps (Iwo Jima) Memorial at 19 feet tall! We continued touring the city at the Bureau of Engraving & Printing, where we watched $20 bills being produced; the National Archives where we saw the real Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, and Magna Carta; and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. We ended our trip at the top of the newly renovated Washington Monument. From 55 floors above ground, we had the view of a lifetime: 365 degrees of beautiful Washington, DC, just before sunset.

We are grateful to the parents, staff members, and donors who helped make this trip possible for our students. From snacks to warm clothing, to monetary donations, none of this would have been possible without your generous support. It was a trip forged with friendships, memories, and sights none will soon forget. Thank you!

By Terri Samson, Deaf Middle School