RICEVILLE | Eleven students from Riceville High School experienced American history up close during a recent trip to Washington, D.C.
They visited landmarks such as the Lincoln, Jefferson, Martin Luther King Jr., World War II and Vietnam War Veterans memorials, as well as Arlington National Cemetery and the Museum of Natural History.
The students also traveled to Civil War battlefields near the D.C. area, including Gettysburg and Fredericksburg, during the March 16-20 trip.
All students who have taken either American history or government – both required classes – are eligible to go on the trip, which takes place once every two years.
Social studies teacher Emily Schipper said students at Riceville used to travel to Washington, but by the time she joined the district, the trip hadn’t taken place for a decade.
The first Washington trip she organized was in 2017.
Schipper said the trip is a great educational opportunity for the students because they experience things a textbook can’t teach.
For example, at Fredericksburg they saw a house still standing from the Civil War that had bullet holes in the walls and a cemetery where 15,000 Union soldiers are buried.
They also participated in a cannon firing simulation.
Riceville resident Ruth Setka, whose son, Stanton, died while serving in Vietnam, sent a wreath along with the group for them to place in front of the panel of the Vietnam Memorial Wall where his name is inscribed.
While they were at the Wall, the students also found the name of Jerome Smith, another Riceville resident who died in Vietnam.
Schipper said the trip would not have been possible if it weren’t for the great turnout at the Veteran’s Day breakfast held in November to raise funds for it.
Sierra Sullivan said it was particularly meaningful to visit the World War II Memorial.
“My great-grandfather fought in World War II so it was nice to honor him there,” she said.
One of the highlights of the trip for Andrea Gronwoldt was the Jefferson Memorial.
“There is a lot of history and meaning behind it,” she said.
Sully Fair said his favorite part of the trip was the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
“It was just cool to see how precise the soldiers were when they were changing positions,” he said.
Everyone should visit Washington if they can, according to Fair.
“It’s an historic place and it’s important to American history,” he said.