Field Trip, Part One

by Caroline on March 10, 2012

Yesterday we got to go on a field trip with the girls’ virtual school to visit the Idaho Capitol Building.  One of the things I really like about their school is that there are field trips at least once a month.  Of course, we all have to get there on our own, but since most of us parents do the “homeschooling” ourselves, it’s not out of the ordinary for us.

Bubbles and M-bug outside the Idaho State Capitol Building

Bubbles and M-bug outside the Idaho State Capitol Building

It was an absolutely beautiful day.  I didn’t want to worry about finding parking or being late, so we arrived early and had time to walk around the building.  My sister, the girls’ Auntie M, came with us.

Idaho has a very beautiful Capitol Building. Construction began in 1905, and it was designed in a very classical architectual style. It is called the “Capitol of Light” because it was designed with many skylights, windows and reflective building materials (primarily marble).  On any given floor you can stand in the rotunda and see all the way to the end of the building’s two wings.  The Senate is in the West Wing, and the House of Representatives is in the East Wing.

The entire building underwent restoration for over two years beginning in 2007, and millions of dollars were spent in modernising the building, adding more underground space, and restoring the columns, woodwork, and floors to their former brilliance.

Interior of the ID State Capitol Dome

View of the ID State Capitol Dome from the First Floor Rotunda

The view of the dome from the rotunda is truly awe inspiring.  It almost made me dizzy to try to look all the way up without holding onto something.  But then, I get dizzy easily.   :-)

Visitors used to be able to take a small winding staircase all the way to the top of the dome, but so many people would become frozen with fear on the stairs that visitors aren’t allowed that high anymore.  The closest you can get is the fourth floor, and that’s plenty close for me.

Our tour was to begin in the Garden Level at the Visitor’s Center.  Since we arrived early we took the time to look at the many informational plaques and pictures about Idaho history and government.  As I stood there a woman came up to me and asked if we were from the virtual charter.  I looked at her nametag, and realized I was speaking to one of our state Senators, Patti Anne Lodge.  We had a nice conversation about charter schools, virtual homeschooling, and how tech savvy children are these days.

After that I gathered all of the children that were there together, and Senator Lodge shook all of their hands, and talked to them about the Capitol building and about what the Senate would be debating on in just a few minutes.  Then, after handing my sister a bag of “Idaho” pins to pass out to all the kids, she left for the Senate Floor.  I thought it was really nice of her to take a few minutes to make the kids feel welcome and important.

By that time, most of the other families and the teachers had arrived, so our tour guide, also a parent to several of our students, took us into the Visitors’ Room and began to tell us about our tour. During this time, both Rep. Christy Perry and Rep. Brent Crane came to welcome the students, talk a bit about how the government works, and explain about what they would be doing during the day.  They also answered the students’ questions. I’m sure that they are alerted when a school group from the area they represent is scheduled to visit, and if they are able, come to make the students welcome and feel they are a part of the governmental process.

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