Grade 5 Visits Our Constitution

Our Grade 5 students have been studying one of the most important documents in the history of modern civics: The United States Constitution. It is a document that formed our democracy, divides power between the federal government and the states, and shares power among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of our government.

Students have engaged in online lessons through the National Archives, exploring primary and secondary sources to understand how the Constitution also assures a series of individual rights not to be abridged by state or federal governments.

This week, students visited the Archives on the National Mall. They were guided by experts from the National Archives museum, where the original copy of the Constitution is housed in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom.

“The trip allowed the students to see the archives building itself as a primary source,” Grade 5 teacher Barbora Bridle explained. “In the architecture, they could see the connection between the Constitution and the Greek roots of American democracy.” There are physical niches in the rotunda left empty by the Archives that allow students to imagine what current or future Americans might deserve a place in this home to the architecture of our federal system of democracy.

In addition to the U.S. Constitution, students saw the Declaration of Independence, which they studied in Grade 4, and were given the chance to recite the Constitution’s preamble.

They also got to see one of the alternate designs for the Lincoln Memorial, which would have set the statue of our 16th president amidst an Egyptian pyramid, a very different context for thinking about Lincoln’s contributions to the meaning of American liberty.

Spreading Kindness and Nourishment!

At Washington Episcopal School, we know that teaching values to young people involves both words and actions. That is why our teachers — led by the WES Office of Spiritual and Cultural Learning — guide students through activities that show them how to help others throughout the year. For example, the holiday season featured a canned food drive spearheaded by the student government, and students were busy helping to clean up Little Falls Parkway this past fall.

Yesterday morning, I witnessed a partnership between older students, their younger student buddies, and Nourishing Bethesda, which provides healthy meals to thousands of local families suffering from food insecurity. The students were decorating snack bags, writing personal notes, and filling the bags to be distributed to young people — using healthy snacks that you, our WES families, donated.

The event was fun and meaningful. I witnessed older students learning to take responsibility as they worked with their buddies, and I saw the glow in the eyes of our younger Dragons as they worked to benefit others in partnership with peers they admire. I heard our older Dragons say “Great job!,” “That’s beautiful,” and “Let me help” over and over as the buddies worked on their bags in classrooms. Then the students traveled to our auxiliary gym where the Student Government Association had arranged the donated snacks on tables. Quite often, Middle School students boosted our youngest to help them reach the piles of healthy food.

It is wonderful to know that all the students are connecting this work to an even larger community and purpose. This WES project celebrates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The federal holiday commemorating Rev. King is the only one designated as a National Day of Service.

Thank you for your partnership and participation in this vital component of a WES education.

Danny Vogelman
Head of School