Forty-two Fairmont State students participated in the annual Honors Field Day in Washington, D.C. on September 8, according to Kelsy Eaton, president of the Honors Association.
The Field Day took students to the National Gallery of Art where they took in the exhibition “Water, Wind, and Waves: Marine Paintings from the Dutch Golden Age.” They saw almost 50 paintings, points, drawings, rare books, and marine models, which provided them with insights into the complicated relationship the Dutch had with the sea, its economic benefits and its dangers.
“Our goal of Honors is to give students access to cultural experiences they may not yet have had access to,” said J. Robert Baker, director of the Honors Program. “The National Gallery is one of the world’s great art museums, and it is within easy reach for our students.”
After lunch, the students walked to the White House where they toured the state rooms in the presidential mansion. Entering through the East Wing, they walked through the East, Green, Blue, and Red Rooms, the State Dining Room, and the Cross Hall before exiting through the main entrance on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Eaton, a senior psychology major in the Honors Program commented, “After going through the process of security, we all entered the White House to tour the designated areas. It was a fun experience to see this great building that we have all seen so frequently from the outside, but, at least in my case, never before from the inside. The tour was self-guided so we were welcome to roam through the historic halls at our leisure. My personal favorite was viewing the Green Room where Thomas Jefferson hosted dinners, and where John Adams’ coffee urn and James Madison’s candlesticks could be found.”
Rae Hill, a senior Honors student, majoring in English, said, “Going on the D.C. trip has always been a highlight of my fall semester, and this time was no different. The National Gallery of Art never ceases to amaze and touring the White House was an illuminating experience which I would not otherwise have been able to enjoy.”
Elizabeth Chaney, a junior Honors student, whose majors are Spanish and History, reflected, “The annual trip to Washington D.C. taken by the Honors program is by far the most interesting day of the school year. For many students from West Virginia, a trip to the nation's capital is not easily undertaken. Even for those students, such as myself, who go quite frequently, the Honors trip has provided opportunities to tour the Capitol building and the White House which may not have existed otherwise. The trip strikes the right balance of the familiar and the new, so that students feel comfortable while also experiencing a cultural activity not often afforded to those from our state.”
Nathan Sandruck, a second-year Biology major, commented, “The Washington D.C. trip hosted by the honors program was, despite being rainy, an incredibly uplifting experience that allowed me to visit famous memorials and learn more about the presidency of the United States. We took a tour of the White House that inspired much awe despite being unexpectedly short. It was a very taming experience being in the same room that presidential families dine in. I also was able to see the Lincoln Memorial, which made my jaw drop in amazement at the incredible architecture of the day.”
The tour of the White House was arranged with help from Cameron Nelson in Senator Joe Manchin’s D.C. office. The Honors Association is a student organization committed to supporting the Honors Program and its students. In previous years, Students have also visited the Capitol, the National Archives and the Holocaust Museum.