On the first Friday of school, field trips fostered bonding and learning


photo by Daniela Abrams, LT

A U-Street mural depicting musician and mailman Buck Hill.

Lena Nadaner, Reporter

The CESJDS high schoolers went on various field trips to Sandy Spring Adventure Park, U Street, local monuments and the National Mall on Sept. 3. The trip’s goal was to help students and teachers bond and transition back to in-person learning through socialization and team-building exercises. 

Ninth and tenth-grade students spent half the day at Sandy Spring Adventure Park and the other half on-campus doing bonding exercises. 

Freshman Zev Mendelson enjoyed completing the ropes courses and ziplines at the adventure park with his friends and getting to know high school teachers. 

“We were together and helping each other out [and it helped remind us of] what it’s like to be back in person instead of online,” Mendelson said.

The team-building exercises consisted of students making a comedic skit and creating an art piece. Mendelson thought that making the skit with his classmates helped bond students but felt that the art activity did not serve its purpose. 

“It was not fun. We didn’t get to talk to our friends or anything.” Mendelson said. “We just had to make this art piece that had something to do with community.”

English teacher Dory Fox accompanied juniors in Washington, D.C., where they attended a U Street walking tour of murals of influential Black musicians and figures. 

“It was really great for all of us to get back together and learn in a more experiential way and gave us a chance to be social,” Fox said. “Since I am a new teacher, it gave me the chance to meet more students, so I just thought it was a great experience.”

Fox thinks the field trip helped transition students from an isolated Zoom learning experience to classroom learning by “really getting to enjoy each other’s presence and company… and introduce students to some important local monuments that they may not have seen before,” Fox said. 

Senior Naomi Stillman agrees that the experiential learning style that the tour of U Street offered was educational in a fun way. Being surrounded by classmates got students more used to being back-to-school. She found learning about Black musicians from the district to be particularly interesting and saw a memorial that she had never seen before. 

The senior class also did a scavenger hunt with various tasks around the monuments to figure out who kidnapped Dean of Students Roslyn Landy. Stillman described the tasks such as decoding and filming videos to be a boring yet bonding experience. 

“Afterward, I definitely felt closer to everyone in my group,” Stillman said. 

All students and teachers ended the day by eating popsicles and picking up yearbooks.. 

The field trip and in-person learning five days a week reminded students and staff of the feelings and practices of pre-pandemic school and rebuilt their connections with each other. 

“I hope [the field trip] gave students a chance to spend a fun and educational day together,” Fox said.