By Kathy Rosendin

Traditionally, 8th graders at St. Mary School in Los Gatos experience a trip to Washington D.C. and surrounding historical areas with a full 5-day itinerary. This is a wonderful educational trip that students, teachers and parents alike look forward to. But, given the current crisis that we are experiencing, the 2020 trip had to be canceled.

While everyone was sad to miss this trip, teacher Jeremiah Clauss did not give up and set himself to create a four-day virtual itinerary to recreate the so-anticipated Washington DC trip that was thwarted by COVID-19 and the shelter-in-place.

The students “began” in Philadelphia visiting the Liberty Bell & Constitution Hall, the National Constitution Center and the Museum of the American Revolution. That made for a quite exciting first day! On Day 2, they moved to Gettysburg and spent time visiting the Civil War Museum and taking a Battlefield tour.  On Day 3, they walked through D.C. experiencing the Lincoln Memorial, the MLK Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, the Washington Monument, the WWII Memorial and finally the Jefferson Memorial. At the end of this packed day of learning, they still made time to visit the Capitol building, the White House, the Library of Congress, the National Archives and the Supreme Court. On the last day, the class “visited” Arlington National Cemetery, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the JFK Gravesite, and ended with “Museum Mayhem.” And if they were still eager to visit more sites, the teacher recommended that students add a virtual visit the Bible Museum and the Smithsonian.

We are grateful for Mr. Clauss’ creativity and commitment to providing a rich educational experience for our 8th grade students. His precise narrative, the magic of Zoom, and the wonderful virtual programs available to us made this the best virtual trip ever!