Student Field Trips at Montpelier 

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Over 1,200 students visited Montpelier on field trips in October. Though every field trip to Montpelier is a unique experience, there were a number of classes that particularly stood out this fall.   

Over 150 Orange County 4th graders visited over 2 days to hike the Civil War Trail at Montpelier that circles the remains of an 1863 Confederate Encampment, the Reconstruction-era Gilmore Cabin, and the Jim Crow-era Montpelier Station Train Depot. Another 350+ Orange County 7th graders would visit the same sites to participate in the Journey Through Hallowed Ground’s “Immersion Day” program. The JTHG was going to conduct this program at Wilderness Battlefield, and the program would have been cancelled due to the shutdown, had they not proposed doing it at Montpelier instead.

Then came the French invasion. A large group of Buford Middle School students (Charlottesville Public School) and French exchange students from Champagney, France, came to see the Gilmore Cabin and the mansion to explore the story of slavery and emancipation at Montpelier. Champagney was the first town in France to petition the government for the abolition of slavery in its territories (1789), and these students were creating a video documenting their studies and travels. Only three days later, and totally unrelated, another large group of French exchange students visited the mansion, this time from Culpeper’s Eastern View High School.

A small high school culinary arts class from the Greene County Technical Education Center focused just upon cooking, dining, and the foodways of Montpelier. The Washington Workshop Foundation brought a group of We The People competitors to tour the mansion and take part in a "Constitutional Conundrum" session. 

Montpelier’s Education Department offers a wide selection of programs for teachers to build their field trip with.  All programs are designed around the VA SOLs.  It is the variety of these programs that forces Montpelier educators to stay sharp and ensures they almost never do the same thing twice. 

For more information on field trips: www.montpelier.org/visit/student-field-trips-and-resources.  

Christian Cotz