Members of the junior classes from St. Joseph’s Academy and Catholic High School spent Thanksgiving week in Washington, D.C., enjoying the sights and sounds of the nation’s capital. This year marked the 36th anniversary of the schools’ annual trip.
Among the highlights of the week were an illuminated night tour of the Jefferson Monument, Lincoln Monument, Vietnam Wall, Korean War Memorial and Iwo Jima Memorial. The visitors enjoyed visits to the White House and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Martin Luther King and World War II memorials. Travelers also enjoyed touring the Newseum, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Pentagon Memorial.
The juniors visited the Capitol, Library of Congress, Union Station, United States Botanic Garden, American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial and the National Archives Museum. They also enjoyed a prayer service and tour of Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
On Thanksgiving Day, the juniors visited various Smithsonian museums and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, then enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner at the hotel followed by a performance of Shear Madness at the Kennedy Center.
The week came to a close on Friday with a visit to Arlington National Cemetery and a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Chosen to participate in the ceremony were Annie Blanchard, Cecilia Campesi, Charles Groves and Garrett Tassin. Mary Claire Saia was chosen to lay flowers at the grave of CHS graduate Scott Lamana, who was killed in the September 11 attack on the Pentagon.
Faculty member Liz Fontenot, who coordinated the trip along with faculty member Aimee Cronan, said the experience was memorable. “I love going on this trip because I see D.C. in a new light each year because I see it through the students’ eyes,” she said. “It is a privilege to continue the tradition of this trip that [former SJA Principal] Linda Harvison started and that she, Jackie Charles and Nan Murtagh led for so many years.”
Braelyn Brown said the Holocaust museum was the highlight of the trip. “It really put things into perspective and made me appreciate our freedom more,” she said.
Flora DeMoss said the trip exceeded all expectations. “I really loved it,” she said. “It was such an amazing opportunity to see all of the things that I have learned about come to life. It inspired me to find my voice in this world and know that I can make a difference in my wonderful country.”
Saia said the trip to D.C. was awe-inspiring, but being chosen to lay a wreath on Lt. Lamana’s grave is a memory she’ll always hold dear. Her younger brother passed away when she was young. “As a bereaved sister, I know that flowers on a grave represent the utmost sign of love and longing for that person,” she said. “Lt. Lamana was a son, brother, friend and so much more, and I felt that connection intensely as I bent over to place his flowers. I felt for his family and loved ones in that moment, and I immediately burst into tears as I walked away overcome with emotions. I thanked God for the opportunity to show the deepest respect, in the simplest way possible, for a man I never knew. I am so blessed to have been chosen to participate in a gesture so close to my heart, and Lt. Lamana and his family will forever be in my prayers and on my mind.”
In addition to Fontenot and Cronan, several SJA and CHS faculty members accompanied the juniors on the trip. They were Jade Spears, Laura Flandez, Erin Mclean, Drew Losavio, Vicki Melancon, Scott and Alyse Manning and Chad Dupuy.