One of the hallmarks of our eighth-grade program is a three-day trip to Washington, D.C. It is an inspiring opportunity for students to meet with some of our country’s leaders and members of their staff – and get the gears turning on ways they can make a difference through civil service. Students also had a chance to see the monuments, visit museums, and experience all the city has to offer.
“The overall goal of our trip is to provide our students with additional opportunities to support and expand upon what they have learned through middle school,” says Dr. Eric James, assistant head of school. “Moreover, this trip helps to buttress our eighth graders’ ties to Harlem Academy and each other as they prepare to transition to high school.”
Middle schoolers met with Senators Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand, who encouraged them to embrace their role as future leaders. “Senator Booker told us that we could take the lead and affect the world, and Senator Gillibrand talked about all the opportunities available to us,” says eighth grader Kennedy. “Meeting them really opened my eyes.”
Classmate Madisyn was equally inspired, especially because the senators took the time to answer students’ questions. “Getting to meet with members of Congress is very important for kids my age because it gives us access that we don’t normally have,” says Madisyn. “It changes your mindset. You realize that you don’t have to be a certain age to get involved and start finding a way to help solve problems.”
Students also had the opportunity to visit the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, see the Lincoln Memorial, spend time at the Reflecting Pool, dine at local restaurants, and much more. Two of their favorite stops were the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. “It was amazing to see the history of my people at the museum, and Dr. King’s memorial was so powerful,” says eighth grader Adeyemi. “I felt honored to be there.”
The trip as a whole left a lasting impression on our middle schoolers because, as Adeyemi puts it, “It inspires young people to strive for great things in the future.”
Harlem Academy is an independent school (grades K-8) that drives equity of opportunity for promising students, guiding them to thrive at the highest academic levels and one day make a mark on the world.