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Unforgettable Experiences in Washington DC

By: Jasmine Velazquez
Over 600 eighth-grade students from El Monte City School District (EMCSD) traveled to Washington, D.C. for a five-day study trip at no cost to students or families. This experience was both instructive and transformational, with the goal of enhancing their comprehension of American History and giving students real-world experiences to complement their learning. The trip provided a new perspective on their education as they created memories with their peers.
“What I like about this trip is I get to visit the real locations that I’ve studied my whole childhood,” said Wright 8th Grader Kevin V. “It is amazing to actually experience [D.C.] firsthand and all in all, it’s beautiful.”
Students boarded their early morning flight from LAX with excitement and nerves; this was the first time many had traveled this distance. Their schedule was packed with stops at famous sites and museums including the National Archives, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Air and Space Museum, the Holocaust Museum, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and the U.S. Capitol building to name a few. 
“The museums were really important to me because back at home we don't really have museums based on our history and it's really cool to see items we talked about in class in real life,” says Rio Hondo student Katelyn N. Fellow Rio Hondo student Matthew W. added, “Seeing the Declaration of Independence in textbooks or computers is one thing, but being able to actually be there is astounding.” 
The trip also offered students the chance to grow as individuals. “I think being in the hotel with our friends and just having this independence, literally, is really exciting,” said Wright student, Irma D. “I think it allows us to grow up a little more and just have a lot of fun together and make memories.”
EMCSD is dedicated to offering engaging learning outside of the classroom. The district understood the value of experiential learning and the significant effects it may have on students' development both personally and academically. This journey was an investment in their civic education and engagement in the future. “We will always work to enrich our educational practices in order to create more spaces for our students to succeed,” said Superintendent Dr. Maribel Garcia. “At El Monte City School District, that means finding ways to remove barriers to learning and providing opportunities to actually explore the world our students are studying. That is what we strive to do, and that is the goal of study trips like Washington DC for our 8th graders. The knowledge they gain from standing in the places they read about will benefit them throughout their schooling, and the memories they make will last a lifetime.”
The Washington D.C. trip came on the heels of EMCSD sending over 500 4th graders to Sacramento, at no cost to families. EMCSD plans to continue both the 8th grade D.C. and 4th grade Sacramento trip in the 2024-2025 school year.