Taking it all in
COTTONWOOD – More than 60 students from Lakeview High School recently had the opportunity to explore the Washington, D.C. area and returned with different perspectives on their experiences.
Lakeview junior MacKenzie Timm said that the United States Holocaust Memorial had the biggest impact on her.
“It was amazing and actually impacted me the most,” Timm said. “You heard about the Holocaust, and we learned about it in schools, but it wasn’t as much detail as we saw there. I learned so much stuff there. It was awesome.”
The museum is a living memorial to the Holocaust, inspiring citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide and promote human dignity. An online resource is available in 14 languages. The museum includes more than 80,000 books, 28,000 photographs, 8,000 objects and 64,000 oral history testimonies – of which, 5,755, or 9,392 hours, are streamable.
“I still remember details of the museum,” Timm said. “You’re like, ‘wow, that actually happened.’ There were shoes from the actual people who died, and they had videos of the Holocaust. It was crazy watching, seeing the people the way they were. It was awful. But it was honestly, the most interesting thing to me out of the whole trip.”
While at the Holocaust Memorial, the Lakeview students encountered actual survivors.
“There were survivors there that day visiting,” Timm said. “I didn’t talk to them, but I heard other people talking to them. I would recommend going there. I learned so much.”
Since its dedication in 1993, the museum has welcomed more than 36 million visitors, including 96 heads of state and more than 10 million school-age children.
Junior Alexandria Bofferding’s favorite site was Arlington National Cemetery, a 624-acre area where Americans can go to honor, remember and explore the final resting place for more than 400,000 active duty service members, veterans and their families.
“It was awesome,” Bofferding said. “It was huge. And it had a view of everything. You could see the Capitol and everything else. I learned a lot about things I never knew before.”
Arlington is both a national treasure and an active cemetery. Between 27 and 30 funerals take place each weekday at Arlington National Cemetery, accounting for nearly 7,000 services a year.
“I couldn’t believe how many people were buried there,” Bofferding said. “I think it was more than 300,000.”
Bofferding also enjoyed learning about other memorials in the D.C. area.
“I never knew they were that big,” she said. “We went to the Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. We could also see the Washington Memorial, which was really pretty at night.”
The Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Vietnam War Memorial also had an impact on Bofferding.
“We saw all the names and stuff,” Bofferding said. “It was sad because there were so many people who lost their lives.”
Bofferding said that the Smithsonian Institute was much different than she had envisioned
“It was really big, and the museums were all squished together,” she said. “I thought it would be more spread out.”
The biggest disappointment on the trip was that students didn’t have the luxury of spending very long at any of the sites.
“We went through most places super-fast,” Bofferding said. “One day, we went through seven different places or more. But I hope to go back someday and spend more time at places.”
Lakeview senior Braden French also felt some frustration with the compacted schedule.
“It’s hard to get around and see everything with our limited time,” French said. “We didn’t get to see much at each place. We tried to fit a lot in during a small amount of time.”
The 63 Lakeview students, consisting of sophomores, juniors and seniors, happened to meet up with World War II veterans from a Minnesota Honor Flight the day they visited the WW II Memorial.
“The kids had an amazing experience there,” adviser Bill Palmer said. “Many of our students met and spoke with some of our Minnesota veterans.”
Along with fellow Lakeview teacher Marcy Nuytten, Palmer helped coordinate the trip for the Lakeview students. The district has taken similar trips in three-year rotations, with prior trips in April of 2008 and 2011.
“Going with my friends was one of the main reasons I went on the trip,” French said. “It was a pretty good trip.”
French said that the WW II Memorial was one of the highlights for him during the D.C. experience.
“We got to talk to a bunch of the veterans from Minnesota,” he said. “That was pretty awesome. The Memorial is about the size of a football field, but we were only there for about 20 minutes. I walked about 50 feet and started talking to the veterans, so I didn’t get to see much of the Memorial.”
French said he also enjoyed visiting the Holocaust Museum and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
“My favorite was probably the Holocaust Museum,” French said. “It was really impacting, and I learned a lot. The information was a lot more in-depth than what you learn in history class. I also liked the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, where they print money. That was cool, seeing how they do that.”
The Smithsonian, however, was kind of a bust for French.
“There were people, people, people, everywhere at the Smithsonian,” he said. “So it was hard to get around and see everything. With our limited time, we didn’t get to see very much.”
It appeared that the D.C. area experience differed for every person on the trip. Senior Erin Devereaux said she understand the historical significance of visiting the area.
“I think it is important to go and see that stuff because it represents what the entire nation is about,” Devereaux said. “It’s better to see it first-hand instead of just hearing about.”
Devereaux got the experience of a lifetime at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
“I got to be one of the people who laid the wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,” Devereaux said. “That was pretty cool. One of the soldiers working it said that it represents, because we don’t know who the people are that we lost, and honors the entire nation in this way.”
Devereaux said she would never forget the experience, which was made possible because Nuytten had made the reservation a year ago.
“They put on a new wreath a couple of times a day, but our group was last so our wreath got to stay up the whole day,” Devereaux said. “The wreath even had blue, black and white flowers, which represented our school colors. That was really cool.”
While the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was the memorial highlight for Devereaux, her favorite site to visit was the American Museum of Natural History, which boasts the claim of having one of the greatest fossil collections in the world. The museum is especially known for its dinosaur fossils.
“They have the dinosaur and fossil exhibits,” she said. “You could see full skeletons of them. That was pretty cool. And we were lucky to get to see them because the day we visited was the last day they were going to be out. The exhibit was going to be closed the next day for like five years.”
At the Smithsonian, Devereaux said she really liked seeing all the dresses that the first ladies wore at inaugurations.
Devereaux said she also appreciated the organization involved on the trip and that it was an experience she could share with schoolmates.
“The trip was very well planned out,” she said. “All the meals were even planned out, so it was nice to not have to worry about where we were stopping and could just focus on what we were seeing.”
Devereaux explained that the Lakeview group flew to and from D.C. and were carted around in two buses.
“It was the first time flying for a lot of the kids in our high school,” Devereaux said. “That was pretty exciting. We literally had half of the plane. Then when we got there, we were split into two groups. Our two buses would go to the same place, but each of our tour guides would take us around separates in groups of about 35. We had great tour guides. And it was nice getting to go up there with classmates. It was a bonding kind of experience. It was definitely worth the trip.”
Timm agreed and recommended taking a lot of photos.
“It was a great experience, to go so far away, especially with classmates,” Timm said. “It was definitely fun and worth the trip. I had to take a lot of pictures so I could remember everything. It was a great experience for me.”
Bofferding said she would also recommend the trip for any underclassmen considering it in the future.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Bofferding said. “We all found out something different about each other. It was fun to go with friends.”