Lag Ba-Omer fun

High school goes on holiday field trips

Freshmen sit in an exhibit room Artechouse, an innovative museum combining art with technology. They also visited the U.S. Botanic Gardens and rode paddle boats at the Tidal Basin.

Gila S

Freshmen sit in an exhibit room Artechouse, an innovative museum combining art with technology. They also visited the U.S. Botanic Gardens and rode paddle boats at the Tidal Basin.

Junior Rena Katz sits on the grass of the National Mall playing cards with her friends, soaking up the sun and enjoying the break from school. High school students and staff explored the Washington, D.C. area on Thursday, May 11 through four field trips including outdoor experience, visual arts and grade bonding.

The trips were originally planned to celebrate Lag B’Omer on Tuesday, May 9, but a rainy forecast put a damper on the holiday festivities. As the goal of the trips was to take a break from the classroom and spend time outside, and many of the scheduled activities could not have run with inclement weather, CESJDS administration made the decision to postpone the trips by two days.

“We had a lot of goals for the day, some of them were educational … but I would say a primary goal of the day was to commemorate Lag B’Omer and give people a chance to enjoy the outdoors,” said Tori Ball, Dean of Experiential, Leadership and Service Learning and a lead planner of the trip. “We felt like there was the likelihood that folks were not going to get to enjoy being outdoors in the same way if we ran the trips on Tuesday.”

To make the decision, staff watched the weather for over a week. The forecast consistently predicted rain for most of the day, so midday on May 8, the administration sent an email to high school families explaining the plan to postpone the field trips. The email also detailed how class scheduling would shift to accommodate the change. The Lower School and middle school also shifted their Lag B’Omer plans from Tuesday to Thursday.

Despite the last-minute change, the majority of scheduled activities were able to run as originally planned.

The freshman class had two field trip options, one of which was to spend the day hiking a part of the Appalachian Trail. Freshmen on the second field trip started their day in the United States Botanical Gardens, before going paddle boating at the Tidal Basin and ending their day at Artechouse, an innovative museum combining art with technology.

The juniors visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which connected to their studies in their U.S. history classes. After the museum visit, they enjoyed time outside on the lawn of the D.C. mall.

“Overall, I enjoyed the field trip. I think it went really well,” Katz said. “I really enjoyed the museum. I’d been there before the field trip, but it was really nice to go there again and see more of the museum.”

The only trip that had to readjust significantly to the date change was the sophomore class trip. Originally, they were supposed to go on a U-Street mural and music tour to learn about the rich African American culture in the area and end their day paddle boating. However, the U-Street tour guides were unavailable on the Thursday date. Instead, sophomores spent time walking around the monuments surrounding the Tidal Basin, paddle boating and admiring art at the National Portrait Gallery.

Although some last-minute adjustments were necessary, the trips still ran in the spirit of Lag B’Omer. Dr. David Solomon, Director of Arts Education and a lead planner of the trip,  explained that Lag B’Omer is a day of festivity. The trips were meant to embody that celebration, even though they ended up being moved.

“Lag B’Omer is meant to be joyful…and I think we’re at a point in the year where we need something light and fun. We see summer around the corner, so that’s part of the day as well,” Solomon said. “We [wanted] each grade to have a good time, to learn while being in the city,  but to bond and come home that day, really feeling like they grew as a grade.”

Students, teachers and faculty’s overall feedback on the day was positive. Despite the date change, many enjoyed the trips.

“Certainly switching the trips from Tuesday to Thursday created some confusion and challenges in reimagining our itineraries — but in doing so, we ended up with a perfect day,” Ball said. “I heard from everyone that their time outside was really beautiful – whether they were paddle boating or hiking or playing football on the mall.”