2019 Spring Break Field Experience to Washington D.C.

  • Washington D.C. Poster
    Our #CHCougars Spring Break Field Experience will be taking us to our nation's capitol in 2019 with themes of African American and Civil War History and the Power of Place Through Monuments, Memorials and Commemorations!

    If you are interested in going, please fill out this very quick survey


    COST: $1,700

    Please email mark.westpfahl@spps.org to express interest.
    We require a $250 dposit when signing up to ensure downpayments on airfare, hotel and other accomodations. 

    (The last day to receivce a refund on the deposit is November 30, 2018.)

    An intra-school account will be set up so parents can make payments. Unfortunately, credit cards can not be used, nor can direct deposit. All payments must be made by check or cash. (check prefered). Payment plans will be structured on a tiered system with final payments due by January 31, 2018


    In order to provide a clearer picture to families who have not yet experienced one of the previous spring break experiences, we have put together a FAQ section to help you better understand the purpose and the logistics of this proposed trip. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me and I will do my best to better answer your questions or concerns.
    Spring Break 2018 - April 1-5, 2019 *(Dates may shift a day due to airline availability)  
    $1,700 per student. Because we are organizing the trip without the aid of a tour company, we are able to keep our costs down to a reasonable price compared to similar trips offered by World Strides and EF Tours, which charge $2,000 -$2,800 for our customized itinerary.
    Some of the possible fundraising ideas for the entire group that we are considering would be multiple fundraisers at "Capitol Hill Food Nights" at Chipoltle, Buffalo Wild Wings and Devoni's. These events typically net a couple to a few hundred dollars, so they would be beneficial to the creation of possible scholarships, but are not likely to fund the majority of any individual student's trip cost. We would love to have a parent or two coordinate fundraising opportunities such as these to help offset the price of the trip and to raise money for our scholarhsip fund.
    We would also recommend that you consider starting a fundraising page through GoFundMe, or another reputable site.
    We would also like to gain the help of several anonymous donors, who are willing to make matching contributions to our fundraising. If you, or someone you know, might be interested in this, please contact me. 
    The cost of the trip includes round trip air accommodations, hotel arrangements, breakfast, lunch and evening meals, admittance to events/locations/attractions all gratuities, licensed tour guides, and the knowledgable travel guides and trip coordinators, Mark J. Westpfahl, Katie Bannon, Katie Moore and Anne Richardson.
    Mark J. Westpfahl, Katie Bannon, Katie Moore and Anne Richardson. will be the chaperones for this field experience. 
    We travel by airplane from MSP to Washington D.C. (Possibility of flying into Baltimore and travel by coach bus to Washington D.C.) While in Washington D.C, we will be walking and utilizing the metro system for the majoriy of our stay. We will be traveling by bus on limited occassion (most likely to Lincoln's Cottage and the Frederick Douglass House.)
    Overnight security is provided by the hotels. When touring via coach bus, our bus driver will either remain in the bus or will have the bus completely locked so student materials will remain safe and secured.

    In order to maximize our time in Washington D.C, and to reduce our transportation costs, we have opted to stay in the heart of Washington D.C. We are receiving/have recived numerous quotes from hotels. We will make a final determination on our hotel arrangements prior to December 3rd. We are likely to stay at least two nights at the Willard intercontinental which is located across the street from the White House Visitor Center and one block from the White House. Room arrangements do not indicate what groups students will be a part of during the trip. In fact, we will be mixing our groups often throughout the experience, so even if your child does not receive some of his/her peers as roommates, they will still have countless interactions with them throughout the daytime experiences.
    Every student who goes on the trip will be required (by the District) to complete a medical history and waiver form before being allowed to go on the trip. Any medications must be noted on the form and do require a doctors signature. Students may be able to carry their own medications on the trip of aproved by Dr. V. A school representative (One, two or all three of the chaperones) will be responsible for dispersing all medications on the trip and will keep a detailed log of all medications, dosages, time, etc throughout the trip. We will have contact information of the nearest emergency medical institutions. 
    As we get closer to our trip, students will have an opportunity to suggest 3-5 possible students they would like to room with. All rooming situations will be based on gender and rooms will be filled with four students per room. We will do our best to see that as many people will be able to room with other students from their choices, but from time to time, a person not from their list may room with them. Chaperones will share rooms only with other chaperones or may request their own room. It is extremely important to note that while we understand roommates often times can be a sensitive or delicate issue, we will not be in our rooms that often. For example, we plan to get up at 6am each morning, and may not be back until 11:00pm. We reommend making a shower schedule with your roommates and going immediately to bed.
    That completely depends on what you as a parent think. Of the 36 students who traveled to New York and Boston with us in 2015, nearly half were sixth graders. Of the 96 students who participated in the 2014 Spring Break Field Experience to Washington D.C., more than 20 sixth grade students went. Last year, we had about a dozen sixth graders on our Washington D.C. field experience. Our goal is to provide a spring break field trip through the social studies department every spring break. This would allow you to determine when you feel your child is best suited for the experience.
    Students are not required by the FAA to carry identification in order to pass through security and/or board the plane. We will work with the airline in advance of our trip so they are aware of how many children will be in our group and which adults are considered to have "custody" during this time period. I, along with the chaperones, will be in control of their airline tickets. They will not receive them until the morning and evening our our flights at the airport. 
    All students and chaperones will be required to complete a behavior contract prior to trip.

    Approximately two weeks before the trip, we will have a final parent/student information session to discuss final details of the trip. This will include what to bring, what not to bring, how much money students should bring for souvenirs, etc. We will collect final behavior contracts at this time, discuss what to pack, weather conditions, appropriate clothing apparel, etc.
    The value to student participants is often immeasurable, as it is a once in a lifetime experience to share with their fellow peers and educational community. Capitol Hill Gifted and Talented Magnet has offered this experience to students since before 2007 and the impacts for both students and their families are amazing. Student participation over the years has included students from multiple ethnic, racial and religious groups as well as differing socio-economic statuses.
    Not only does the trip provide students with an opportunity to explore our amazing country and numerous historical sites in a structured setting, the trip is designed to draw tremendous emphasis on the standards that are taught in 6th Grade Minnesota Studies, 7th Grade American History and 8th Grade World Geography.
    Our itinerary is subject to change, but this is a small snapshot of what we will be seeing/experiencing while on tour. More events and landmarks will be added throughout the trip as photostops or "stop and see" spots.
    DAY 1
    We'll make a short stop at the White House for photo stop & head over to the White House Visitor Center. In the afternoon, we'll team up with National Park Service Ranger Jennifer Epstein for a guided tour of the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War, WWI Washington Memorial and Washington Monument. In the evening, we'll conduct an ivestigation the Lincoln Assasination with "History on Foot with Detective James McDevitt" from Ford's Theatre.

    DAY 2
    The 2nd day is dedicated to Lincoln & the struggle for emancipation. We'd start at Ford's Theatre and receive a tour from the Director of Education, watch the amazing 2-man play "One Destiny" & tour the Petersen House (Where Lincoln drew his last breath) before heading to Lincoln's Cottage, the Soldier's Home Cemetery & Rock Creek Cemetery. In the evening, we'll deconstruct the symbolism of monuments & memorials further with a visit to the WWII, FDR, MLK and Jefferson Memorials.
    DAY 3
    This day is devoted to African Americans in the Civil War & reconstruction era Washington. We'll start at the Frederick Douglas House to learn about the American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman followed by a discussion at the African-American Civil War Memorial led by National Park Ranger John W McCaskill. We'll tour the African-American Civil War Museum before heading to Howard University to learn more about how the historically black university helped transform education and empowerment in Washington, throughout the Reconstruction period and what it means today.
    DAY 4
    We'll kick off our 4th day at Arlington National Cemetery. We will visit famous sites like JFK, Tomb of the Unknowns, but we'll also swing back to deconstruct the "Lost Cause" Confederate monument in Section 16. We've arranged a private tour of Grant Hall at Fort McNair & the National Dfense University. This is the site that the Lincoln Conspirators were tried and (several were) executed. This site is rarely open to the public, so we are thrilled to be making arrangements to fit our curriculum. Time permitting, we'll vist the We'll visit the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Museum & learn about the role Clara Barton and others took to locate missing Civil War soldiers.
    DAY 5
    Our final day is still a little up in the air, depending on when our flight is. We could visit one/two of the Smithsonian museums, visit.tour the Unite States Capitol, stop in at the National Archives, bvisit the Library of Cngress, the Supreme Court or so many more things. Barack Obama still lives in Washington D.C... maybe he will be home & could chat w/us for a few minutes.
    Washington D.C. 2019