Every year, Pinewood’s eighth graders take a week off school to tour Washington, D.C. They visit multiple tourist spots, learn about U.S. history and have a lot of fun with classmates.

This year, 51 students went with four teacher chaperones. The trip started in Virginia, in particular Jamestown and Williamsburg. From there they drove to Washington, D.C. and saw as many of the city’s monuments as possible. In addition to visiting historical monuments, they also visited the Spy Museum, Thomas Jefferson’s house in Monticello, Ford’s Theatre, and many more.

Phil Ribaudo, a chaperone on the trip and the Computer Science Department Chair at Pinewood, said the D.C. trip “is by far the best trip I’ve chaperoned.” Ribaudo has chaperoned the trip 13 times and run it 12 times. During our interview, Ribaudo said the visit was the “premier trip for Pinewood’s Junior High… [and all students] reminisce about this trip forever!” He loves the visit because of the “challenges it presents, and the satisfaction [he gets] from student reactions…” Ribaudo described the trip as a once in a lifetime opportunity. “Being 45 feet away from a sitting president, giving a speech at Arlington Cemetery on Veterans Day or watching the Supreme Court Justices in session” is not something a lot of people can do, especially while in eighth grade, Ribaudo said.

Mia Pistelak is an eighth grader, and one of the 51 students to go to Washington, and enjoyed the trip very much. Although she was nervous before leaving, Pistelak had a great time and got over her worry quickly. Her favorite sites were the Spy Museum and Ford’s Theater.

Carrie Davis, another chaperone and a dance teacher at Pinewood, loved the visit. This is her third time chaperoning the D.C. trip. “[The trip is] full of history and … what our country is all about. I love the Lincoln Memorial… but I also really love Monticello,” Davis said. She is fascinated by the overall beauty of Monticello and the history of the events that happened there.

Davis hopes the students understand what an amazing opportunity this was. “I would have given anything to be able to have taken that trip when I was in eighth grade,” Davis said. Not only was the D.C. trip a great bonding experience, but it also gave the students and teachers a tour of American history. Pistelak, Davis and Ribaudo described the visit as a “trip of a lifetime.”