Darlene Harrison took a group of 21 Sumiton Elementary/Middle School students to the nation’s capital last month to see the sights. She did not realize the University of Alabama’s football team would be there at the same time to meet President Barack Obama after winning the national championship.
The sixth-graders saw the team emerge from buses at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and got plenty of autographs and photos with the athletes. They even had crimson and white shakers, which the university sent them by overnight mail to have when they met the team.
It was Harrison’s 11th time to take students to Washington, D.C., but the first time her group got to meet a national championship team on the trip.
“That’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal,” said Sumiton Elementary/Middle School principal Paige Skalnik.
The trip provided many “firsts” to the students. For all except one, it was their first time to Washington, D.C. It was also the first time for most of them to ride on an airplane.
Harrison said all of the experiences contribute to her students’ educations, and will benefit them in years to come.
“This was a once in a lifetime experience. You read about it books all the time, but to see it in person is breathtaking,” said student Matthew Levan.
One student, Andrew Ross, got to see, for the first time, the grave of his grandfather, Joseph A. Miller, a Vietnam veteran who is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Miller died in 1982.
Adventure Bus Charter & Tours of Sumiton employees helped make the cemetery visit go smoothly by finding the grave a day in advance so they could take Ross there. They also provided roses for Ross to place on the grave.
Besides the U.S. Capitol Building and the National Mall, the students also saw the Washington National Cathedral, the changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery, Mount Vernon, Ford’s Theater and much more. In addition, they rode the subway and the third-largest continuous escalator in the world, at Rosslyn Station.
Student Brandon Warren said the trip was the best thing he’s ever done. Keinsley Sandlin said it was “nothing like I’ve ever seen before.”
“You never expect it to be so big and beautiful,” said student Tanner Hester.