4th Graders Take the State Capitol!

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A day trip to Lansing might not seem like a highlight to many of us, but if you’re a Jenison 4th grader, it’s an important field trip you look forward to each spring!  Our students visit the State Capitol Building and the Michigan Historical Museum as part of their curriculum on Michigan’s government and according to Bauerwood 4th grade teacher, Craig Westra, it’s a highlight for students, teachers and supervising parents.

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In preparation for their visit “our classes have studied the branches of government; they’ve compared local and state governments, learned what a representative government is, and what rights and responsibilities are given to citizens. [We] also learn about the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of government and the purpose of each. We discuss the limitations of each branch and how, even though they are different, they are equal in power. Students learn how bills are written and the path they take through the Legislative Branch on their way to possibly being signed into law by the governor. Comparisons are made between the structure of state government with that of local and the federal governments. Students will often learn the names of their governor, representative, and senator, as well as their House and Senate District numbers.”

IMG_3848 copyBecause the Bauerwood trip took place on a Monday students were able to see first-hand that many representatives and senators use that day to be in their districts with constituents rather than spending time in Lansing.  However, a major highlight for students “has always been the opportunity to lie on the class floor inside the rotunda of the state capitol. Looking upwards into the dome, 180 feet above them, students can see the portraits of former governors, the 7 muses drawn from Roman and Greek mythology inspiring the people of Michigan to continue moving forward and achieve prosperity.”

They also venture to the Michigan Historical Museum where they questioned the docents on many Michigan events and details such as the Flint Sit-Down Strike, the Roaring 20’s, Prohibition and the horseless carriage.

Mr Westra is thankful for each Jenison family of a 4th grader who sacrificed money or time to make this trip a reality.  “Each family paid $24 dollars to have their child[ren] to attend this field trip. Many parents volunteered their time to chaperone and help make this trip a safe and educational experience for kids. In a day when resources might be tight, families still view this trip as a meaningful and worthwhile experience.”

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Students lying on the floor to see the full scope of the Rotunda.

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At the museum, this student gets to see what it was like to sit on a carriage seat. It looks like he would’ve made a fine Michigan pioneer!


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A museum docent walks students through Michigan history and Native American ties.

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A life size Native American display at the museum.

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 Thank you to all of the students, teachers, chaperones and supporting families who helped our 4th graders learn more about state government and Michigan history!  These are incredibly valuable, hands-on experiences that will stay with our students for a lifetime!

2 comments on “4th Graders Take the State Capitol!

  1. what a wonderful experience for these students to visit the Capitol It so important for students to know more about the government I was proud of my grandson

  2. Pingback: 200 Reasons to Celebrate! | Central Office Sentinel

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