Students’ Whirlwind Tour of the East Coast
Mother’s Day was a very special this year for 29 fifth and sixth graders from Kualapu’u Elementary School, and 11 chaperones including myself. It was the day we embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime tour of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC via the school’s East Coast Enrichment Trip.
Eager faces and anxious parents said goodbye at the Ho’olehua Airport as we set our sights on a 9 day fun-filled adventure. A long 10 hour flight led us into the Logan National Airport in Boston on Monday. Yes, the chaperones were exhausted, but the students were ready to see the world. Jumping in the hotel pool and playing with the buttons on the elevators was all the excitement they needed that day.
Tuesday began the official day of our EfSmithsonian Tour with our tour guide Aaron planning our adventure with expertise. Touring the USS Constitution and the Cassin Young was a treat for our students as they spoke to WWII veterans.
Visiting the oldest major league park in the world was a big hit!! Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Socks made all of us excited about the sport. Touring downtown Boston along with our Duck Tour on the Charles River was next. We completed our night with a Skywalk tour of the Prudential Center and dinner at Faneuil Hall.
Wednesday was a full day of history as we continued to tour Boston and Cambridge, the Old North Church, Paul Revere’s home, walked the Freedom Trail, visited Granary Cemetery where some of the signers of the Declaration of Independence are buried. We toured Lexington and Concord, and wow, the emotions we felt as we were brushed up on the history of the Revolutionary War such as visiting the Minute Man National Historical Park and the Old Manse House.
We left Boston on Thursday and headed on to the “Big Apple”. We were all in “awe” as we drove through downtown New York City and saw everything that we would only see on television. We walked Central Park and visited Ground Zero. Many of us had tears in our eyes as we were humbled by the memory of that dreadful day. We visited St. Paul’s Cathedral where many of the families gathered to wait for word if their loved ones survived the attack.
Time square was beautiful at night!! We topped of the night looking down into the city from the top of the Empire State Building. An early Friday morning took us to Ellis Island and Liberty Island as we rode tour boats to visit the Statue of Liberty.
Our next stop was the New York City subway!! Wow, that was an experience in itself. The Metropolitan Museum of Art helped us understand the many cultures and history in our world. We got dressed up for our final adventure in New York City, a Broadway show!! Phantom of the Opera excited all of us!! What a perfect ending to an awesome day!!
Saturday we headed off to Philadelphia where we were able to see the Liberty Bell, Congress Hall, Independence Hall and Christ Church. The students got a chance to run up the same stairs that Rocky Balboa ran on the movie “Rocky”. That was cool!!!
We were then off to Washington D.C. where we had dinner and went down for the night to prepare for our next filled day. Sunday morning was a beautiful day as we made our first stop to the Arlington National Cemetery and witnessed the changing of the guards, we were then off to the Iwo Jima Memorial and then on to the Veteran’s Wall Memorial.
The students were able to get a rubbing of Uncle Larry Helm’s captain’s name on the wall.
We stood outside the White House gates, then on to the Old Post office for lunch. The National Archives was an awesome experience where we got to see original documents such as the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and The Constitution. We ended our evening in Virginia with an Alexandria Colonial Ghost Tour.
Monday was a full day as we began the morning visiting the Washington National Zoo. Following the Zoo we went to Ford’s Theater where Abraham Lincoln was shot and then on to the Petersen House where he died. A guided tour of the US Capitol taught us more about our political system and the branches of government. We were able to meet up with our Senator Daniel Akaka where we sang and presented Ho’okupu to him.
The Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum as well as the National Art & History Museum was fascinating!! To end the night we took a night bus tour of the city that included the WWII memorial, the Korean War Memorial and last but not least, the Lincoln Memorial.
The next day, May 22nd, we were up bright and early as we said our good byes to our tour guide Aaron and our coach bus driver Vinnie. We were headed home to our rice and spam.
Our trip was filled from morning to night and we loved every minute of it. We covered 10 states in 9 days. Thank you to our sponsors and our donors as well as Kualapu’u School for supporting us on this awesome adventure. We hope that one day all of our students will be able to share their own experiences with others.