Right now it's about 10:00 PM on Saturday evening. A long bus ride is all that stands between us and the end of our Washington DC field trip.
We came to Washington DC, we toured Washington DC, and we have left Washington DC.
In the 84 hours that I will have spent with our 8th graders, I learned, or at least remembered, several things.
One, 8th grade boys touch anything and everything. Walls. Railings. Each other.
Two, the wonders of history can make an impression on 8th grade students who are bombarded with technology and entertainment and Instagram and text messages and Twitter. It may take awhile but the power of Arlington National Cemetery or the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial or the Lincoln Memorial can make 8th grade students think about their place in the world.
Three, 8th graders will spend foolishly. Five dollars for a lollipop as big as your fist - seriously!
Four, the world is as difficult for 8th graders to figure out as it is for adults. 8th graders question why there are so many graves at Arlington, why the Declaration of Independence was so revolutionary, why a President could be shot in Ford's Theater.
Five, 8th graders sometimes don't pay close attention. One young man, sitting in Ford's Theater, having just listened to the National Park Service Ranger talk about how Lincoln was shot in that very place, looked up at his chaperone and asked, "Wasn't Lincoln shot in a theater?"
Six, there are adults who care a great deal about children who are not their own. Approximately 30 Novi teachers, our Assistant Principal, our Novi school nurse, and the Novi Chief of Police voluntarily chose to ride a bus from Michigan to Washington DC and back, eat with, walk with, and share with a group of 8th grade students.
In the hope that these young men and women would learn about the American spirit so that they can be part of the American dream.
It was a noble and generous gesture. One for which I am deeply grateful.
My final lesson remembered - the seventh lesson - has been that giving of yourself to others is never easy and not always rewarded. But it is always worth it.