ON CAMPUS | SCHOOL
A Monumental Trip for Fifth Graders
STORY BY KRISTIN MANKER (US’13, C’17)
NOTICE TO PARENTS: HISTORY CLASS WILL BE HELD ELSEWHERE TODAY—WASHINGTON, DC.
Principia fifth graders took their learning on the road this past spring with a trip to the country’s capital. And like all Principia trips, this one focused on character as well as curriculum. The classroom might have changed with each impressive monument visited, but the life lessons learned only grew in number.
The plucky group of fifth graders might have seemed like mere tourists, taking underground tours of the Capitol, waving at senators they passed on the street, exploring historic Williamsburg, and examining archeological digs at Jamestown, but they were on a different type of journey as well: being prepared for challenges they’ll face in middle school and beyond.
“The trip offers two types of growth,” said fifth grade teacher and trip leader Jason Hinthorne (US’05). “The growth in learning about American history, and the growth within each of their own hearts and minds. The trip pulls on prior knowledge that [the students] have learned and puts them in a position to experience that knowledge firsthand. They get to witness the past and understand how far our country has come. While they are experiencing all this, we are focusing on their growth as young people. What makes them leaders? What inspires people to be a part of change? These deep questions inspire character growth within these young men and women.”
It’s only fitting that what started with a monument ended with one too—this one made by the students themselves. After returning to their classroom, the students were asked to analyze their work from the school year and identify a quality about themselves that they observed in their work. They then created a monument about that quality and displayed it at their fifth-grade celebration, which marked their transition into Middle School.
“I get to watch them grow up in front of my eyes,” said Hinthorne. “If you don’t allow kids the space to grow, they don’t. At this age, they’re becoming independent, they’re just becoming middle schoolers. The trip is the first step on a fantastic journey that they will all go on as they move through the rest of their schooling at Principia.”