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5th graders visit nation’s capital, some get wave from President Obama

WASHINGTON -- When 32 fifth graders took the bus to Washington, D.C, none expected to see the President of the United States.

Yet, five students and Superintendent M. Annette Cluff had luck and good timing on their side. They were the last of the Varnett group to tour the White House May 16 when President Obama arrived in a limousine and waved at the students from behind his back-seat tinted window. “We got an opportunity to see the president,” Dr. Cluff said. “It was obvious that he saw the children and he wanted to make sure the children saw him. He acknowledged them with a wave and a tremendous smile.”

While not all of the students were able to share that special moment, they did soak in an invaluable history lesson during the seven-day coach trip that concluded May 19. They toured the home of Frederick Douglass and the Anacostia Historic District, visited the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial and the Smithsonian Institution and took in the play Shear Madness at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. They later toured the White House, posed for pictures with U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston after viewing her office, observed from above as the U.S. House of Representatives debated bills, walked around the Capitol Building and had fun at the Madame Tussauds wax museum.

"Once-in-a lifetime event"
They concluded their educational experience with a trip to Mount Vernon (the site of President George Washington’s estate), an interpretative tour of the Arlington Cemetery, an appearance at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and a bus tour of Washington D.C. The fifth-graders -- 18 from the Southwest Campus, 10 from East and four from Northeast -- were accompanied by Dr. Cluff, 10 chaperones and five staff members.

“This trip was a once-in-a-lifetime event,” said East Campus Director Gayle Voltz, who came with the students. “The attractions helped bring to life the historical events the students read about in their history books. We hope this is a trip they will never forget.”

Top Photo: Travel group poses for a photo before taking a tour of the White House.

Bottom Photo: U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston addresses the students and chaperones on the Capitol steps.

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