Tubman and Habans Scholars Visit Nation’s Capital while Akili Scholars Take a Civil Rights Journey


Every spring, our schools offer students the opportunity to travel outside of New Orleans and experience places that impact their lives. This annual right of passage often includes many “firsts” from taking airplane flights to riding a subway, to experiencing national monuments after sundown to interactive exhibits that place them at a lunch counter sit-in with hostile voices yelling in their ears. Students also had the joy of exploring the campuses of prestigious Historically Black Colleges and Universities and dreaming big!

Tubman’s Washington, D.C. Trip

Charles DePietro, Director of Curriculum and Instruction sums up Tubman’s 7th grade trip as, “7 museums. 6 memorials. 5 days. 4 buffets. 3 metro rides. 2 incredibly long bus rides. 1 unforgettable experience.”

“37 students, six teachers, and one parent went on a five day long trip to the nation’s capital. Many students experienced their first ride on a subway, first baseball game at Nationals Park, and even first time staying in a hotel room with other students. While the chaperones planned guided tours of the Natural History Museum, the Capitol building, and the National Portrait Gallery, there were some once-in-a-lifetime experiences that students encountered. As they walked to the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Sunday morning, they were able to experience George Washington University’s commencement and hear NASA engineer Dr. Christine Darden, of ‘Hidden Figures’, address the crowd and stress the importance of education, especially math and science. On the Howard University campus, students were able to talk to alumni, from the class of ’65 to the class of ’19, about what they valued most from their college experiences. They were also able to witness World War II veterans visit the WWII memorial and celebrate the lives of those who sacrificed their lives during the war. These were experiences that students will not soon forget. Despite being a jam-packed trip, and walking more than 27 miles, many (now) 8th grade scholars are already asking how they can become chaperones for next year’s trip.” Thanks, Mr. DePietro for the great narrative!

Akili’s 8th Grade Civil Rights Tour

The charter bus rolled out at 7 a.m. with 23 sleepy-eyed but excited 8th graders and their chaperones headed for Atlanta with a stop along the way to visit Tuskegee University. While at Tuskegee, scholars toured the campus and learned about the Tuskegee Airmen who were the first African American men and women trained to maintain and fly combat aircraft. Once in Atlanta, the scholars visited The King Center and saw the house where Dr. King grew up and the church where his father was a pastor.

At the Center for Civil and Human Rights, several students participated in a lunch counter sit-in demonstration. Kristen Parfait, an Akili teacher & chaperone, describes it. “They were sitting at the counter to see how long they could last. It had people yelling in their ears, pushing them. The next day Le’shyra and Mariah both told me that they didn’t think they would have been that brave because it was really scary. I told them those were just regular people like them who were pushed to bravery because of their circumstances. Le’shyra said ‘Well I do think I would take a stand if I was put in that situation, too.’ And Mariah said,’Yes, you are right, it’s easier when you’re not doing it alone.’ ’’

While in Atlanta, the students also toured the CNN Studios, Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Clark Atlanta University. On their way back to New Orleans, they visited Montgomery and stopped at The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice where 8th grader, Le’Shyra recalled, “It taught us about our past  and helped us understand the trials and tribulations our ancestors went through in order to get to where we are today.” Akili scholars experienced first-hand everything they had learned about civil rights history, the work that has been done, and the work that still needs to be done.

Habans Takes D.C. ! Planes, trains, & automobiles on tour of nation’s capital

For the first time, Habans scholars and chaperones had the adventure of flying to D.C. for their annual 7th grade trip. Their 4-day experience, lead by Principal Elisabeth LaMotte-Mitchell, included a full itinerary of museums, monuments, memorials, and the creation of many great memories! Some of the highlights included a visit to the Frederick Douglas House, a guided tour of the Capitol building, exploring the campus of Howard University, and catching a Nationals game. Not to mention, a full immersion into public transportation via subway and bus rides and walking more than 31 miles!

At the Frederick Douglas House, LaMotte-Mitchell observed, “Students left with his call to ‘agitate’ ringing in their ears,” and then, “visiting the Museum of African American History and Culture deepened their understanding of the historical experience of African Americans in the United States.” Scholars were fully immersed in Washington, D.C. and the significance of how what happens there impacts their lives. “On the guided tour of the Capitol building,” shared LaMotte-Mitchell, “students learned how the future is molded by those elected officials serving in both chambers. Students felt empowered to vote, run for office, and lead their generation. This group of 7th graders will agitate – they are inspired to push for equity in education and beyond.” While the scholars had an incredible learning experience, there was still time for playing football and relaxing on the National Mall, and attending a night game at Nationals Park. On the final day of the trip, students toured Howard University campus and were in awe of the potential opportunities that could await them. “Students saw themselves on Howard’s campus and for the first time for many, they imagined what college life could look like for them. Although our feet were sore from the many hills, there were smiles on every face and future plans being dreamed up,” beamed Principal LaMotte-Mitchell.