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Middle school students take on D.C.

New Richmond Middle School students line up for a group photo while on their trip to Washington, D.C.

When the New Richmond Middle School eighth-graders take their annual trip to Washington, D.C., Vicki Cobian never knows what to expect.

"This was the best year of all," she said.

The 39 middle-schoolers traveled to the nation's Capitol April 16-18.

Flying into Reagan National Airport is always a treat, Cobian said.

"It's one of those airports that you can see the monuments from the air," she said. "We got there and were seeing things before lunch."

Cobian said it's always a gamble as to whether the students will behave or not.

This year, Cobian was pleasantly surprised.

"They were amazing," she said. "Everyone was very punctual."

After 12 prior trips to Washington, D.C., Cobian said the group has the tour down to a science.

"It's nice to know all the tricks and tips," she said.

For example, for a very small fee -- something like 50 cents per student, groups are able to enter the National Archives from a backdoor and avoid the crowds and long lines.

Securing a knowledgeable bus driver is also key, Cobian said.

"We've requested the same bus driver for a number of years," she said. "He's really good and will tell us about things as we pass them. It's nice because then we see things that we won't necessarily tour."

The group hit many of the common sites in Washington, D.C., including the Library of Congress, Supreme Court, Capitol building, Smithsonian Institution, Washington Monument, White House, Iwo Jima Marine Memorial, Mount Vernon, National Archives, Holocaust Memorial Museum, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Jefferson Memorial, WWII Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial Wall, Korean War Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery and the National Cathedral.

The Holocaust Memorial Museum and Kennedy Center are always a couple of favorites, Cobian said.

"It's nice for them to see it so they can make the connection through what they've been learning in their American History class," she said.

The experience at the museum is almost like being in a concentration camp, she said. It's crowded, almost claustrophobic feeling.

"It really adds to the atmosphere," she said.

The kids pick the Kennedy Center as their favorite destination every year. This year the group attended "Shear Madness," a comedic murder mystery that allowed the audience to pick the ending.

"It was fun because they mentioned New Richmond Middle School during the performance and we got to yell and cheer," she said.

In the coming weeks Cobian will distribute a survey to the kids to get a better take on what worked well and what didn't. The surveys are then used to help plan future trips.

Along with Cobian and the 39 students, teachers Bill Leahy and Patty Van Nevel also made the trip.

Jackie Grumish
Jackie Grumish has been a reporter with the New Richmond News since 2008. She holds degrees in journalism and fine art from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill. Before coming to New Richmond, Jackie worked as the city government reporter at a daily newspaper in Aberdeen, S.D. 
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