During the first week of the half-term break twenty nine of our Year 10-13 students took the opportunity to visit the United States. We started our tour on a rainy day in Washington by visiting most of the indoor attractions such as the wonderful Smithsonian Museums and the White House Visitor Centre, before heading off to the famous Ben’s Chilli Bowl Restaurant, a much loved Washington institution often frequented by the Obamas.
On the second day we focused on the US government, stopping by the lavish Library of Congress and the Supreme Court, before having a very informative and amusing tour of the Capitol Building. Some students commented that our guide’s jokes were as bad as Charlies, but I didn’t think he got close. We ended our time in Washington by strolling along the National Mall, stopping at the WWII and Vietnam Memorials before standing at the Lincoln Memorial and looking down from the site of Martin Luther King’s famous ‘I have a Dream’ speech.
We then set off by coach to Philadelphia and were treated to a very patriotic tour of the Independence Hall where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed. After seeing the famous ‘Liberty Bell’, which has a whole museum devoted to it, we stopped by the Museum of Art and ran up the steps made famous by Sylvester Stallone in all of the Rocky films. Grey hoodies had been ordered with this in mind!
Our final stop was New York City were we took in a lot of the major sites: from Times Square to the amazing views of the Empire State Building at night, the boat trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the moving 9/11 memorial and museum, the grand New York City Library and the Hard Rock Café for dinner. On the final day, our focus was on the Civil Rights Movement and, after a tour of Harlem, we listened to a presentation by Mark Levy, a civil rights activist who had been at the heart of the movement during the 1950s and 60s.
Although, not necessarily sad to leave our accommodation – it’s not as much fun at the YMCA as they make out in the song, we were sad to leave New York. I’m sure most of the group will return one day. Overall a great first visit to the US for our departments and we thank all of the students for being such good company on the trip