Eighth grade Parliament trip to be suspended due to renovations

Eighth graders Addie Griggs, Emmaline Ricket, and Emma Whitman study friezes in the Palace of Westminster on March 6. The friezes were painted in the 1800s and are in dire need of restoration. All the eighth graders went to Parliament (photo by Emily Forgash).

The annual eighth grade trip to Parliament will soon be undergoing a temporary suspension because Parliament is going to be refurbished. It will be closed starting around April or May of this year. It will be a six-year restoration process during which tourists will be forbidden to enter Parliament.

The Palace of Westminster (which is also known as the Houses of Parliament) is going to be refurbished because it is no longer structurally sound, particularly down in the foundations, where it is situated next to the River Thames.

Another one of the major concerns is the lack of good technology hubs. Most of Parliament was built in the 1870s after a fire in 1834 burnt it to the ground, and it is not suitable for modern technology. There are yards and yards of labeled cabling that run through the bell tower and back hallways in order to try and get WiFi and other technology services to the entire Houses of Parliament in a more efficient way.

Some concerns have also been voiced concerning the roofing areas because there are holes and cracks that are currently being investigated. As an added problem, workmen will have to be careful of birds and animals that may be able to get through the holes into Parliament. Additionally, the original artworks and tiles that are in the building will be given a restoration in the coming years.

Some eighth graders believe that they gained information while on the outing on March 6. Eighth grader Caroline Vauclain said, “We learned a lot of bits of information about how Parliament works that we hadn’t learned in class. Also, it was very interesting to visit.”

Because in coming years the eighth grade will not be able to go on the Parliament trip, the social studies teachers have had to look into other options. Eighth-grade social studies teacher Ms. Penny Giehl said that in the past they’d also looked to go to the Churchill War Rooms and the Imperial War Museum as alternatives. “Unfortunately,” she said, “the Churchill War Rooms can only take up to sixty students on any given day because they have to make allotments for any school that wants to visit. Unless we strategically rejiggered things we wouldn’t be able to have the whole eighth grade all go there on one day… instead, we could have half the group go to Churchill War Rooms and have half go to the Imperial War Museum, then flip flop.”

However, that involves more days to get both groups to go to both sites, so Ms. Giehl noted that it could just be that temporarily, until Parliament is completely refurbished, the eighth grade doesn’t go on a field trip during that time of study. The eighth grade would not go on a trip until Parliament is completely refurbished.

“I’m going to miss going to Parliament,” said Ms. Giehl, “I like it. Cold, a little stodgy, but it’s cool. From the curriculum, I don’t believe anything will be lost. The information learned there will still be shared and available. We still teach how parliament is structured, but what will be lost is that ability for students to actually see the place where all of this government decision making, policy making et cetera takes place. Parliament has been around for a very long time, and you read about it and you hear about it but making that connection to what you read about to the actual physical being there and experiencing it – that’s the piece that will be lost. ”

About Hailey Vice ('21)

News Editor (2016-2017)

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