Twenty students from Akiva and the Jewish Middle School spent three days in March visiting the nation’s capital, exploring the vibrant landmarks, monuments, and museums of Washington, D.C. During their trip students toured both the White House and Capitol, visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, took an underground tour of the labs at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and enjoyed a night tour of the National Monuments and Memorials. Adding to the inherent charm of D.C., the trip also landed right in the middle of the famed cherry blossom season, and students had the opportunity to take in the myriad of pink blossoms enveloping the Tidal Basin and National Monuments.
Akiva’s biannual trip to Washington has been an invaluable component to students’ education for many years. This year, for the first time, Akiva partnered with the Jewish Middle School to maximize the educational opportunities and cultivate partnerships between the students.
Fifth and sixth graders at Akiva and JMS spend time learning about the Holocaust, and it’s very personal role in our history and culture. In Washington, students spent a morning viewing Remember the Children: Daniel’s Story, an exhibit designed and curated to tell the story of one family’s Holocaust experience, followed by a reflection. Akiva sixth grader Hirsch Coleman reflected that, “The museum made so much of what we have learned feel more real. It put me in the place of children my own age and showed us what they went through in a different way than just learning about it from books and pictures.”
In addition to the Holocaust Museum, students also had a lot of meaningful fun on the trip. Akiva fifth and sixth grade teacher Kelly Love said that for many, “The highlight of the trip was the night tour of the monuments. Students prepared and presented at each stop on the tour, sharing with their friends all they had researched and learned about each monument. It was a real aha moment for the kids. They saw so much of what they are learning in the classroom come to life.”
The trip was generously subsidized with an Innovation Grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Nashville, supporting both schools’ efforts to deepen students’ understanding of civic responsibility and our shared history.
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