Education Blackboard — December 23, 2009

Students see government at work

Mrs. Grifhorst’s class from Crestwood Elementary School poses for a group picture on the steps of the Michigan Supreme Court building in Lansing.

Mrs. Grifhorst’s class from Crestwood Elementary School poses for a group picture on the steps of the Michigan Supreme Court building in Lansing.

Over 90 fourth-grade students, teachers and parents from Crestwood Elementary School were able to see our government at work first hand as they traveled to Lansing for their annual government field trip. The trip gave the students a chance to see how our three branches of government—the executive, legislative and judicial—work together in their tours of the State Capital and Supreme Court building. Students were also given a peek into the past at the Michigan Historical Museum.

While waiting for their capital tour to begin, the students in Judy Grifhorst’s class were treated to a tour of a senator’s office.

“I never imagined the office being so big!” said Stacy Barker.

“We even got to sit in his chair,” added Trent Johnson. “I think he was a Republican, because there was a lot of elephants in his room.”

As the students began their formal tour of the capital, they were awed by the many unique features of the building.

Crestwood Elementary School students Connor Walstad and Cameron Kostus check out the names of the soldiers on the Michigan Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial.

Crestwood Elementary School students Connor Walstad and Cameron Kostus check out the names of the soldiers on the Michigan Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial.

“My favorite part was lying on the glass floor and looking up into the dome and seeing the stars!” exclaimed Courtney Lawrence, and many students agreed.

In addition to the stars, Greer Stuart added that he also enjoyed “looking up at all the beautiful paintings.” The students were encouraged to look down for fossils hidden in the tiles of the floor.

Following a tour of the governor’s office and the Senate and House of Representative wings of the building, the students headed to the Michigan Supreme Court Building.

The Supreme Court building offered many hands-on exhibits. “I liked pretending to be a judge for a court session. It was so awesome!” stated Clarissa Mousel.

Students also had a chance to experience what it is like to be drunk while trying to drive, using special goggles.

A quick trip back in time was enjoyed by all at the Michigan Historical Museum. From lumberjack camps to the mining cave, the students experienced what it was like to live in Michigan during its early history. Many of the students were intrigued with the war exhibits, especially the one centering on World War II.

“I imagined being in the bomber plane flying over enemy territory,” said Asa Huffaker.

“It feels like you were right there when it happened,” agreed Madeline Maple.

“But now no fourth-grade class will have the opportunity to go anymore,” said Sean McLellan. “But when my class went, we had fun.”

“With current curriculum changes statewide, the field trip to Lansing, along with learning about our state, will be passed down to the third-grade students,” explained Grifhorst. “This year was a sad year for me to attend. For 18 years, I have had the opportunity to share my love of the history and civics of Michigan with our fourth-grade students. It has been said that when one door shuts, another one opens. The fourth-grade teachers at Crestwood Elementary are looking forward to opening the doors of different learning experiences in the future.”

But no matter what, Ellen Main summed it up the best for the class: “It was so much fun. I hope I can always remember this year’s field trip.”

As a special reminder of their trip, each student received a commemorative coin celebrating the life of Elijah E. Myers, the architect who designed the building, in addition to a special certificate from Representative Tom Pierce.

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