By Henry Johnson
Students from the 10th-grade class at Wakefield Country Day School made a memorable trip to Harpers Ferry, W.Va. on Nov. 16. The purpose of the trip was to see an important but often overlooked piece of American history that is just a two-hour drive from their school. As student Marc Cugnon put it: “It was a remarkable opportunity to see part of American history in our own backyard.”
The students traveled by bus accompanied by parent Suzanne Albert and English teacher Lisa Ramey. The bus arrived at the Harpers Ferry Visitors Center where the class met its guide and boarded a van for the ride downtown. After being dropped off, the group hiked a portion of the Appalachian Trail that led to Jefferson’s Rock, a large boulder from which Thomas Jefferson had surveyed the valley. Looking out from this rock, the students had the same spectacular view of the river gorge and surrounding cliffs that inspired Jefferson to write that “this scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic.”
The group returned to town and spent an hour exploring its various shops and museums. Afterwards, they met by the river where their guide explained the history of John Brown’s raid. The class then performed a skit on John Brown’s struggle in a tiny brick firehouse, the very spot on which the abolitionist had made his last stand. From there, they went to a museum where they learned more of John Brown and Harpers Ferry. Students were impressed by the museum’s insightful videos and its large collection of weapons.
After a restaurant meal in town of what one student called “some of the priciest yet most delicious food,” the class re-boarded the bus and returned to school. Students unanimously viewed the trip as a fun yet informative experience. “Because of visiting Harpers Ferry,” said Katie Brown, “I gained important insights about John Brown and his role in Virginia’s history.”
The students thanked Ramey for planning the trip and expressed their appreciation to Scott Clough for driving the bus.