They headed ten miles via school bus to Caratunk Wildlife Refuge, as part of the first grade study of trees.
Their final field trip together began with two buses, an airplane and a shuttle train to Atlanta, Georgia, en route to Montgomery, Alabama, as part of their study of the American Civil Rights Movement.
Gordon eighth graders have been making this trip for sixteen years.
By now, every new group enjoys a legacy of relationships that Gordon has formed over the years, with bus drivers, activists, tour guides and advocacy organizations.
The first stop of this year’s trip was Atlanta’s Center for Civil and Human Rights, an intense, many-layered museum.
It’s split roughly into two halves, with one level devoted to the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
The other floor is organized around the range of struggles for human rights across the globe today.
The place uses technology wisely and imaginatively.
Every room has layers of multimedia, and rewards close attention.
One of the most memorable exhibits is also one of the quietest.
Against a wall, a wired-up lunch counter offered an unnerving simulation of the intimidation protesters experienced during the lunch counter sit-ins of the 1960s.
Gordon students filled every corner of the place, bent in quiet reflection or huddled up with teachers.
The common thread throughout the museum was empathy.
How are these people like me, and how are they different?
Source documents and deep research provided the detail to make it come alive.
How did white people talk to each other about segregation?
What did Jim Crow laws actually say?
What would a universal bill of human rights include?
Even the life-sized portraits of twentieth-century dictators helped keep the history human-scale.
At Gordon, these students have been talking about identity since they were very young.
Throughout Lower School, they were taught that what you see depends on where you stand.
The Civil Rights Trip, then, becomes a master class in putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.
They’ll walk the streets of Selma and learn about the brave choices people made there.
They’ll meet with lawyers and community organizers working today in Montgomery, Alabama’s capital city.
And somewhere along the line, they’ll ask themselves: could I do that?
dozens more photos from day one, including moments from dinner at Montgomery's Odessa's Blessing