On Wednesday, September 26th, the XIIIs made our way to our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. The group learned about the evolution of newspapers across the globe by visiting the Newseum. The next day, we heard a lecture in the Supreme Court, and learned about the Court’s history and significance. The XIIIs were amazed by all that we learned. We had an exhilarating experience in Washington.
First, the XIIIs had to make the trek to the capital. That entailed arriving at Penn Station at dawn as one tired group. Luckily, the train ride gave everybody enough time to energize themselves. When we arrived, we immediately noticed the lavish architecture all around us, and the U.S. capitol building straight ahead in the distance. We dropped off our luggage and took a walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, eventually ending up at the Newseum.
Students started off on the lower level of the museum. There were three documentaries about journalism that such topics as “what makes the news?” My favorites showed how American newspapers did not cover the Holocaust as a big issue, and how sports journalism evolved over the years.
We saw a FBI exhibit, enjoyed a lunch catered by the world famous Wolfgang Puck, and went on to learn and write about which Pulitzer Prize photo meant the most to us. We also identified three historical newspaper articles that we found most intriguing.
The photo I chose was “The Babe Bows Out,” which I felt close to because of my connection to baseball and New York. Also, knowing that he died two months after that photo was taken, brought me a mix of feelings, as I tried to step into the shoes of both the Babe and his beloved fans. The Pulitzer prize winning photographs were very meaningful to the majority of the group. “I really connected with some of the photos,” said Gitana Savage, XIII.
We then proceeded to a exhibit that showed articles from a wide range of dates and time, covering nearly 500 years. Many students chose their articles from different years. One wrote about one in the 2000s, another in the 1920s, and one in 1804 about the duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. We finished the first day at the Newseum with three movies about the freedom of the press and its limits.
After some hotel relaxation time, we seriously had the greatest meal with the group many of us have ever personally experienced. It was Korean barbecue, one of my personal favorites, and the food was brought out in extravagant amounts, more than enough to satisfy the stomachs of the group.
The next day, we returned to the Newseum for a workshop about First Amendment rights in schools. We talked about cases in recent years when students have sued schools for violation of their First Amendment rights. We also talked about what a journalist should do in certain situations. “I was surprised on how important a journalist’s job is, and how controversial and how much risk they take in making a minor mistake,” said Mia Rutkovsky, XIII. It was much more like a debate than a formal discussion, and everyone chimed in. After that, one half of our group went to look at the First Amendment exhibit, and the other half watched the Ford testimony unfold on the huge screen of the Newseum’s first floor. Emotions were running high and the court was silent as Dr Christine Baisley Ford testified before the Senate Committee. Though there was no corroborating evidence, I truly think she was telling the truth. To put her life, her job, and her reputation on the line for this testimony was a huge risk to take, and I congratulate her for standing up. We finished up with a documentary covering 9/11. On our walk to the Supreme Court, we saw about 60 protesters, chanting and holding up signs in support of Dr. Ford. It was reassuring that people were on the side of this brave woman. The Supreme Court was visually astounding, on the outside and the inside. My favorite part was sitting in the actual court where so many cases have been argued by so many people, with all the different judges. It was a uplifting experience, and was to many the best part of the trip. Finally, we made our way to the train for the trip back home, this time gifted with our personal devices, which made the ride go by a lot faster. After being in unfamiliar terrain for 48 hours, I was glad to see my parents and my sister, but I learned a lot on that trip, and it was undeniably fun. We can’t wait till’ Chicago!