The Highlander

Students visit Mount Vernon

AP U.S. History and photography students combine talents in a historical field trip

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Students visit Mount Vernon

George Washington's going home AP U.S. History students standing outside of Washington's mansion.

George Washington's going home AP U.S. History students standing outside of Washington's mansion.

Cordelia Lawton

George Washington's going home AP U.S. History students standing outside of Washington's mansion.

Cordelia Lawton

Cordelia Lawton

George Washington's going home AP U.S. History students standing outside of Washington's mansion.

Cordelia Lawton, Reporter

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It is 7:00 a.m. on a Monday morning and the entryway to McLean is buzzing with excitement for the first AP U.S. History field trip to Mount Vernon. This exciting field trip was organized by photography teacher Swapna Elias.

“First of all, I love Mount Vernon and I come here a lot and I just had this idea that it would be cool to have my photography students collaborate with the history students because there’s a lot of meaningful connections between those two,” Elias said.

To do this, a Google classroom assignment was set up for students to complete in groups containing two students from each subject. Students spent the morning exploring the site and the afternoon working in groups. 

“They’re revisiting a location in Mount Vernon that they wanted to go back to and then they’re talking about a theme that they would like to communicate through the photograph.  An example of a theme would be social status and they’re going to talk about how they’re going to photograph the scene to convey their theme,” Elias said. 

Elias hopes students take away a lot from the field trip.

“I’m hoping students will first of all be able to see in real life how George Washington lived and put some of what they’re learning into context and I’m also hoping… with the collaboration between history and photography that they can work together and share each other’s experiences and learn how history is viewed through the lens of photographers in many ways because when you look at photographs you’re interpreting history,” Elias said.

Calling the field trip a success Elias thought about what could be improved if the field trip is continued. 

“I’d like to have a pre-meeting where we meet with all of the students, say during a Highlander Time or something like that, and explain the project and have the groups assigned before we actually get here,” Elias said

Juniors Julia Raymond and Reyna Hershberg also felt it was a success. 

I think it’s a fun way to learn stuff… outside of the classroom setting because that just gets kind of boring and repetitive after awhile so it’s cool to actually experience… I’m not going to forget the facts that they told me here, but I would if it’s just a worksheet that we did in class, ” Raymond said. “

Their only criticism lay in the organization and tasks given. 

“Well, if the fair wasn’t here I’m not sure what we would have done for six hours other than the tour of the house. I think maybe they should have had more things for us to do,” Hershberg said.

The historical fair, which occurs once every year, was a highlight because of its handcrafted items, but wasn’t the only highlight of the trip.

 “I enjoyed seeing the house and I was kind of surprised because all the rooms were really colorful and really comfortable looking and it was just a lot different from other historical time periods that we’ve seen,” Raymond said.  

All in all, students learned a lot from the experience. 

 “I just learned a bunch of little facts about George Washington that I wouldn’t have known before,” Raymond said.

Cordelia Lawton
Play Ball!  Students unwind with a game of cricket on George Washington’s lawn.

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