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Birchland Park Middle School eighth grade students were able to meet and speak with U.S. Rep. Richard Neal during their May 15-17 trip to Washington, D.C., for their civics capstone.
Reminder Publishing submitted photos

EAST LONGMEADOW — A group of eighth grade students from Birchland Park Middle School recently took a field trip to Washington, D.C., as part of their civics capstone.

The trip, which occurred from May 15-17, allowed students to visit locations that connected with their history and English curriculums, such as Smithsonian museums and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as well as different government buildings and monuments, Birchland Park eighth grade teacher Katherine Reilly told Reminder Publishing.

With more than 125 students who attended the trip, attendance included more than two-thirds of the eighth grade class at Birchland Park, Reilly explained. Eleven staff members from the eighth grade team and school administration also attended the trip.

In addition to its educational value, the trip offered the students an opportunity to experience a trip without their parents, Reilly stated, highlighting that many students had not had this type of experience in their life yet and that it was important for the students’ social growth.

This year, the students were also able to meet U.S. Rep. Richard Neal (D-Springfield), who answered the students’ questions on topics such as his role in government, his daily schedule and his views on different issues, Reilly said.

She expressed appreciation to Neal for taking time to speak with the students and stated that the eighth grade teachers hoped to offer this opportunity to students in future trips.

The Birchland Park trip to D.C. started as a school-organized field trip six years ago and has run each year since this time, Reilly said. The annual trip had occurred prior to this time when it was run by parents but had stopped when the school decided to host the trip again, Reilly explained.

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