Washington D.C. 2023-24

– Mr. Brannan & the 8th Grade Chaperones


Despite being the earliest point in the year WNS 8th graders have embarked on their trip to Washington, DC, the start to the trip was the smoothest Mr Brannan has yet to experience. Everyone was on time, the passenger bus and the luggage bus got loaded quickly, and the students counted off by their assigned number (a way for the chaperones to quickly take attendance) efficiently. 

When we got to the airport, there were a few little hiccups. There was an overzealous traffic officer threatening to write tickets to the school buses. They didn’t in large part due to Nate mediating the situation rather calmly. We also were told that the group check-in counter that we arrived at was closed but the one at the opposite end of the terminal was open. But, none of this fazed your kids. They rolled with it.

How great! Mr Brannan thought. This group is listening, they’ve made a point to be on time, to be flexible if things don’t go quite according to plan. This will make things so easy because . . . 

His thought was interrupted by a question:  “Are we still going to have time to go buy things?” asked Ezeh whose question was followed by a barrage of others.

“Yeah, I want to get food.”

“I need snacks.”

“If there’s not time, can I buy things on the plane?”

And just like that, your attentive and calm kids turned into panicky, hungry creatures infected with a disease only spending money on snacks or toys or trinkets could cure. Despite the anxiety the countdown to our boarding time was causing, we were able to all get checked in, navigate security, and make it to our gate with enough time to allow students to go to the bathroom and fill up their water bottles. And, oh yeah, time to go spend money!

Things that were purchased:

  • Candy
  • Chips
  • Beef Jerky
  • Stuffed animals
  • More candy

When we boarded the plane, everyone was happy and made happier still when they saw the TVs in the back of every headrest. The chaperones were happy too. This meant the flight would be much quieter and tamer than if there was no entertainment on board. And it was. In fact, Mrs Rod received two separate compliments about how well-behaved your kids were!

Upon arrival in DC, we stepped into a madhouse at Dulles. Even walking single-file, we were brushing shoulders with other travelers. The first bathroom we passed had lines stretching around the corner. So did the next and the next. Eventually, we found a bathroom that could accommodate a 56-person school group. As Mr Brannan watched over a few bags outside the bathroom, two pilots walked by, commenting that they’d never seen the airport as crowded as it was at that moment. It was as if everyone left town anticipating a government shutdown only to have to rush back after a last-minute deal was reached. 

At the baggage claim, students volunteered to help get our baggage off the carousel. The volunteers quickly arranged into bag grabbers and runners. Luce became an expert at compiling the bag bins to clear off the carousel. Cyrus, Claire, Lila R (who was especially speedy . . . Ms. Reimann you might need to ask about track!), Rebecca, Ari, Kima, and Nolan (who also grabbed a bag for an older gentleman) got luggage to their peers in record time.

The bus ride was largely uneventful. Cyrus claimed the younger WNS kids lovingly call him Citrus. Tyler disagreed, saying if they loved him, they’d call him by his real name. 

Then, something called the Marshmallow Game sprung up in multiple seats. In fact, Goldie and Ruby even offered to teach Mr Brannan how to play. He passed. 

What’s the Marshmallow game, you ask? Any group of two people can do it. They go back and forth quickly sentence by sentence like this:

“One marshmallow. Check it out. Woo. Two marshmallow. Two marshmallow. Check it out. Check it out. Woo. Woo. Three marshmallow . . .” and so on. 

Pray for our sanity now. And Mr Brannan’s because he only held out on learning the game for a moment before buying in. He’s on it now and plans to get great at it!

At dinner, Ari shared how his mom asked if he had money this morning. When he said no, his Mom responded, ‘Grandma (who Ari will be seeing tomorrow) will give you some’. Next, chaperones were informed that Ben would likely be trying out for the school musical. With all the talk of parents, chaperones were confused to hear Ben Friedberg was trying out for the musical…we were quickly corrected by Ari, Beck, Lila, and Aubrey that they were talking about Ben Penny. Perhaps we are a little tired. 

After dinner, we boarded the bus again to head to the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial. Getting to visit at night is a truly memorable experience. While the memorial can be visited any time 24/7, at night, the cantilevers and reflection pools beneath them are dimly lit up, which adds an extra layer of serenity and somberness to the memorial. 

Once we returned to the hotel, we debriefed the day, “what went well and what didn’t,” led by Mrs. Rod. Students were reflective in sharing what they enjoyed, and what could be worked on. But they were most excited to hear their room assignments and seemed to relish in the idea of finally being able to enjoy some downtime. Each room was checked by the night guards, then checked by a chaperone, and given the morning wake-up time.

With  Monday Night Football on in most of the boys’ rooms, Mr Brannan and Nate are a little dubious they’ll find them raring to go in the morning. But they need to be! We have a packed day with visits to the FDR, MLK, and Jefferson Memorials in the morning, and a trip to Arlington National Cemetery where four students will participate in the Wreath-Laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier before we head to Chinatown for dinner.

Farewell for now,

The Chaperones