Eighteen Pulaski County students, who completed eighth grade at Northern Middle School during the 2016-17 school year, were selected to travel to Washington D.C., along with NMS Social Studies teachers, Jessica Wheeler and Zach Smith. This opportunity was funded through a federal grant received by KEDC (Kentucky Educational Development Corporation). In total, there were 45 Kentucky students and 5 Kentucky educators invited to participate in this experiential learning trip. Other school districts represented were Somerset Independent, Casey County, and Harrison County Schools.
Over the past school year, Smith and Wheeler were selected to participate in the Kentucky HEART (History Education Through Advanced Research & Technology) Project, funded by a grant received by KEDC. Throughout their experience, they have participated in professional development opportunities and cadre meetings and were offered the opportunity to not only attend a trip to Washington D.C., but to also select eighteen Pulaski County students to attend as well. The students were selected based on academic merit as well as high interest and engagement in social studies. Amazingly, the grant paid for all students and teachers to travel to Washington D.C. without personal expense, with the intention to increase awareness and engagement of historical and political knowledge.
Pulaski County students who were provided the opportunity to travel this summer to Washington D.C. include Connor King, Jaxon Gambill, K.J. Combs, Dalton Bertram, Kaleb Adams, Levi Belcher, Christopher Dalton, Parker Pierce, Alexa Brunson, Alivia Carr, Emma Hawk, Dawn Wilson, Kaylie Strunk, Audrey Newman, Mylan Baumgardner, Natasha Waddle, Lindsey Horn, and Shelby Wade. These students will be rising freshmen at Pulaski County High School this coming school year.
While in Washington D.C., students were able to visit the U.S. Capitol and meet with Congressman Andy Barr. The group was given the opportunity to speak with Congressman Barr about current topics in U.S. government. Historical and government sites the group visited included a U.S. Capitol Tour, White House photo opportunity, National Archives Museum, and other National Smithsonian Museums. While in Washington D.C. the group visited many national memorials and monuments such as the Lincoln Memorial, MLK Jr. Memorial, and many war memorials. They were given the opportunity to visit Mt. Vernon, George Washington’s estate, as well as the Holocaust Museum, International Spy Museum, Arlington National Cemetery and much more before traveling back to Kentucky. For many, this was their first time traveling to the District of Columbia and expressed gratitude and excitement for this opportunity.
When asked about his experience, Dalton Bertram, one of the students who attended said, “This trip to Washington D.C. was a great opportunity for all of us to learn and see new things about our country. As someone who was going to D.C. for the first time, I feel I was given the full experience and learned a tremendous amount.” He went on to say, “One of my favorite places we visited was the U.S. Capitol Building. This trip was definitely one that I will never forget and cherish forever.”
Mr. Zach Smith, teacher at Northern Middle School said, “The students chosen were very engaged in this trip. It was very evident that they were appreciative of this opportunity to travel to our nation’s capital, many for the first time. We are certainly thankful to KEDC and the Kentucky HEART Project, but also to Northern Middle School and the Pulaski County School District. We also want to thank the parents who allowed their students to travel. Many of them donated cases of water for the trip, but also for trusting us to travel with their students. It was a fantastic experience for all who participated.”
Ms. Jessica Wheeler added, “I am grateful for my students to have the opportunity to see where history was made and preserved. I hope because of this trip they will continue to have a love and appreciation for history throughout the rest of their lives.”
Students pictured at the “Arlington House” at Arlington National Cemetery (Front L-R): Ms. Jessica Wheeler, Parker Pierce, Christopher Dalton, Connor King, Mylan Baumgardner, Natasha Waddle, Dawn Wilson, Shelby Wade, Kaylie Strunk, Audrey Newman. (Back L-R): Kaleb Adams, Jaxon Gambill, Dalton Bertram, Lindsey Horn, KJ Combs, Levi Belcher, Emma Hawk, Alivia Carr, Mr. Zach Smith, & Alexa Brunson.
Students pictured in front of the White House (Front L-R): Emma Hawk, Dawn Wilson, Alexa Brunson, Alivia Carr, Natasha Waddle, Christopher Dalton, Shelby Wade, Kaylie Strunk, Audrey Newman. (Back L-R): Dalton Bertram, KJ Combs, Lindsey Horn, Mylan Baumgardner, Kaleb Adams, Jaxon Gambill, Parker Pierce, Levi Belcher, & Connor King.