Byram 8th graders visit Washington D.C.

Lay wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

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  • 8th-graders from Byram Intermediate School at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. The class took a trip to the nation's capital from May 30-June 1, 2018 and visited a number of important historical sites and memorials. Photos provided

  • 8th-graders from Byram Intermediate School at the Lincoln Memorial

  • From left, Maddie Evanchik, Sara Brown, Skyler Krassner, and Kyle Wasik, 8th-graders at Byram Intermediate School chosen through an essay contest for the honor of taking part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

  • The students at the Tomb in Arlington

By Mandy Coriston

— 86 members of the 8th-grade class at Byram Intermediate School, along with their teachers and a group of parent chaperones, took their annual trip to Washington, D.C. from May 30 through June 1, and were treated to a view of some of our capital’s most cherished landmarks and memorials. The trip included a very special moment when four members of the class were given the honor of laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

8th-grade class advisor, Jessica Taylor, who also teaches seventh grade at the school, arranged the trip and the wreath-laying with the help of school travel services company, Curriculum Travel Agency.

“Many years ago, it was more common to be able to take part in a wreath-laying,” Taylor said. “But now it has become very popular with schools and it’s less accessible. We applied a year ago to be able to do it this spring.”

This is Taylor’s 11th year organizing the trip, and she said it’s important that the students get to see the places they learn about in the classroom.

To be chosen to take part in the wreath-laying ceremony, students were asked to write an essay describing why they thought they were deserving of the honor and what it would mean to them. Taylor received nearly twenty submissions. She and a group of fellow teachers read and reviewed them, with the names redacted for fairness. The four students whose essays were selected were Maddie Evanchik, Kyle Wasik, Skyler Krassner, and Sara Brown. The students had to follow a strict dress code and received detailed instructions from an officer at the memorial before performing the ceremony.

“The kids were a little nervous. The captain was a bit intimidating,” Taylor said. “But they did great job!”

In addition to the visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the students also took a tour of the Capitol Building, learning about the nation’s legislative process and taking in the famed rotunda. Even with the current closure of the Washington Monument, there was no shortage of other stops. They visited both the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial, as well as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the memorial for Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Taylor said she was most proud of her students when visiting the war memorials along their tour route.

“We visited the World War II Memorial at twilight, and seeing it lit up made it all the more special for them. It was almost like they were walking through thanking them (the lost veterans),” she said.

The students also went to Arlington National Cemetery, the Korean War Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.

“The kids were inquisitive, very curious about the design of each monument, and very respectful. I’m proud of their decorum,” Taylor said, “It’s like they could finally see for themselves the price that’s been paid.”

Upon return, the students were assigned to write an individual reflection about the tour. Taylor said they were given the task because, “We wanted them to spend time thinking about the trip and what they saw that affected them the most.”

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