Imago Dei Leadership trip to Washington, D.C.

The Imago Dei Leadership Program for our 8th graders culminates with an amazing journey to Washington, D.C. After nine months in the classroom, students board a bus for a 5-day trip of a lifetime! This is where everything comes together, as students take a behind the scenes tour of the U.S. Supreme Court, visit the U.S. Capitol, explore select national monuments and museums, as well as hear from Christian leaders in the media, politics, and civil rights on how to view ourselves and others as image-bearers of God (and what happens when we do!). Our speakers include Shannon Bream (Fox News Anchor), Chaplain Barry Black (U.S. Senate Chaplain), Tim Goeglein (Vice President for External Relations for Focus on the Family), Bob Woodson (President of The Woodson Center), and Dede Winkfield (daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Press Secretary).

We left on a Monday and got back on a Friday. We took twelve 8th grade students and four chaperones—myself (John Murray), Dr. Jamie Hall (history teacher), Michelle Baldwin (Pathways), and Mona Wesley (Pathways/Admissions Director).

Travel To DC

Monday, April 25th began with our school-wide Monday Morning Assembly. We shared about the Washington, DC trip to the whole school, so they could see what they have to look forward to in future years! Mrs. Jackson then prayed for our 8th graders and the trip, and we were on our way!

The Heritage Foundation

We arrived safely to The Heritage Foundation, a D.C. think tank that works to promote traditional values, around 5:30pm. (The former Heritage President Kay Cole James was our Gala keynote speaker last year!) It was here that we heard from our first speaker–Focus on the Family’s Tim Goeglein (another student favorite!) spoke with our students. Mr. Goeglein, the chief lobbyist for Focus on the Family, wonderfully challenged them on what it is like to work in DC, the history of our nation, and the importance of character and humility in leaders. Afterwards, we headed to the top of The Heritage Foundation for a view of the nation’s Capitol and to point out the various sites we would be visiting.

Sight Seeing and Dinner

We then took a scenic tour through DC on our way to dinner—passing by Embassy Row (where the majority of the world’s embassies are located, the Naval Observatory (where the Vice President and Secretary of State live), and the National Cathedral.
We wrapped up our day at The Bolger Center, our home for 4 nights in Potomac, MD. There, we discussed our itinerary for Day 2.

Jefferson Memorial and Monuments

Tuesday, April 26 began with an important stop at the Potomac Starbucks for our daily dose of caffeine and pastries. We then headed to the Jefferson Memorial. In addition to reading about the complicated author of the Declaration of Independence, we enjoyed the beautiful tidal basin and views of the nearby monuments and The White House.

U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black

We then headed to Capitol Hill for our first speaker of the day—U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black. Chaplain Black was a highlight for many of the students, for he was engaging, funny, deep, and relevant. He shared his testimony of growing up with a single mom in the worst neighborhood of Baltimore and the importance of Christ-centered education. He also encouraged our students to go the extra mile, pray for wisdom every day, and pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to work in our lives–honor God by not “defiling our bodies, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit.” He is a man of great wisdom and very motivational!

Supreme Court and Capital Hill

We met up with U.S Senator Thom Tillis’s aide, Kate Barclay (a Covenant Day School grad), who arranged a wonderful tour of the U.S. Capitol Building that included the Rotunda, Statuary Hall, and the Original U.S. Supreme Court, to name a few historic locations. We then rode the underground Senate subway and made our way through the underground hallways to the Dirksen Building Café. Used primarily by Senate staffers, we were the only student group in a sea of employees eating lunch, and we all felt really official. 😏

Washington Monument

After lunch we traveled to The Washington Monument. We ascended to the top of the monument in a driving thunderstorm—which while a little unnerving—made for a memorable experience! With amazing views of the surrounding areas, I shared with the students how the apex of the Monument (the highest point in DC) holds the inscription “Laus Deo”—Latin for “Praise be to God.”

Shannon Bream

We made our way back to the Bolger Center where we heard from our final speaker of the day (via a Zoom call)—Shannon Bream. Host of Fox News at Night, Shannon engaged the students and learned about what they hope to do when they grow up. She discussed the powerful influence of media—particularly social media–and helped explain the difference between shows that do hard news vs. those who center around the opinion of the host. As a hard news anchor, she shared the ups and downs of her career and how she seeks to keep her identity in Christ.
After dinner, we processed our experiences and conversations, highlighting the importance of character, trusting God through trials, and seeking to honor God with our gifts and talents.

The National Zoo

Wednesday, April 27 started with a trip to the Corner Bakery for a tasty breakfast. We then departed for our first stop of the day—The National Zoo! Known for its famous pandas, we were able to see many active animals enjoying the beautiful April morning.

Woodson Center

We then left for the famous K Street, where we visited the Woodson Center. Founder and President Bob Woodson met with our students for over an hour! ( Mr. Woodson is a man of great faith in Christ. He exudes humility even though he has advised various U.S. Presidents, former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and many others. Our 8th graders did a wonderful job engaging Mr. Woodson and asking thoughtful questions about his work. He is having an amazing impact in some of the most difficult schools and communities across the country that many view as hopeless. As an aside, he kept commenting on how impressed he was with our students!

Museum of African American History and Culture

After a delicious lunch, we toured the powerful and moving Museum of African American History and Culture. Words don’t express the powerful story and history that is captured at the Museum. We spent two and a half hours there—which barely scratches the surface on all the amazing exhibits they have. Seeing this history from the African kingdoms in the 1400s to modern day events back-to-back-to-back, you begin to see the horrific persecution and injustices African Americans have endured in America for centuries. It was inspiring to learn about the many men and women God raised up during this time period to stand for freedom and justice.

Congresswoman Alma Adams

Our last stop of the day was back on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, where we met with Congresswoman Alma Adams who represents the 12th Congressional District of North Carolina (which includes parts of North Charlotte). She was warm and candid, and very engaging with the students. We were grateful for her taking time out between votes on the House floor to visit with our students. The students once again asked great questions, and Congresswoman Adams was very encouraged to learn about the mission and vision of Brookstone!
Go Bulldogs!

Museum of the Bible

Thursday, April 28 started with another great stop at a super cool Starbucks in DC on Massachusetts Avenue! We then headed to our first stop—The Museum of the Bible.
We began on floor 3, where we entered the world of the New Testament—watching a beautifully animated story of how the disciples of Jesus came to follow Him—building a thriving community and church that would change the world.
We finished our time at the museum on the “Impact of the Bible Floor.” This floor features the Bible’s impact on the World—whether history, science, literature, music, etc.—and the Bible’s impact on America—with many artifacts tracing the Bible’s profound influence on American culture and its many leaders.

The Lincoln Memorial and “I Have a Dream”

We transitioned to the Lincoln Memorial after our time at the Museum of the Bible–standing in the footsteps where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.
To me, this was one of the most meaningful and moving parts of the trip, as we brought racially diverse students and chaperones together to read Dr. King’s speech one at a time. Our vision for Brookstone’s Imago Dei Leadership Forum is to train up a generation that treats one another as image-bearers of God—fulfilling Dr. King’s dream and God’s command to love others as we love ourselves. Many tourists and student groups stopped to listen in rapt attention, as our students read Dr. King’s speech—with cheers and words of encouragement along the way. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all!
After the speech, we were able to enjoy the Lincoln Memorial—receiving a private tour with one of the Park Rangers. We read the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address on the walls of the Memorial!

Supreme Court

From the Lincoln Memorial, we headed to the U.S. Supreme Court for our VIP tour— visiting the Supreme Court room, as well as the hallways and historical areas that feature famous justices and cases throughout the past 80 years. The tour was led by one of the Justices’ Executive Assistants and proved to be a timely behind the scenes look at the operations of the Court—especially with a potential Court ruling being leaked only a few days later!

Library of Congress and the National Archives

After lunch on the hill, we visited the Library of Congress. Learning the fascinating history of this facility, we were all amazed at the beauty of the architecture and the wonderful reading room (featured in National Treasure, Part 2!)
Speaking of National Treasure movies, we then traveled to the National Archives, where we witnessed the original Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. We also learned that they have discontinued the security system to protect these invaluable documents (as featured in the movie—sorry Nicholas Cage!) and have gone to a new secret system!

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

We then headed to the MLK, Jr. Memorial. We had a blessed time viewing this newest memorial in DC and reading Dr. King’s many inspiring quotes. The arrival to the MLK, Jr. Memorial concluded our image-bearer and civil rights progress tour throughout the week– from the Jefferson Memorial (‘’all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”) to the Lincoln Memorial (which features Lincoln’s call to equality in the Gettysburg Address and the reading of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial).


Susan Scola, a former docent at the National Gallery of Art, and Dede, a retired teacher, helped close out our 4 days in the nation’s Capital.
Susan helped us process the history we had experienced. Dede’s mom was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assistant and oversaw his press relations for a number of years. Her uncle was a Tuskegee Airman. She talked through our nation’s racial challenges and progress.
Dede spoke for over an hour about growing up during the Civil Rights Movement. She was the first African American to integrate her private Catholic school in Albany, GA, and reflected on her personal memories of Uncle Martin and Aunt Coretta.
Our time with Dede and Mrs. Scola was invaluable, and we were so grateful for their honesty and vulnerability.
It was a packed fourth day for sure, but one that was never dull and only got better as the day went on. Everyone slept well that night!

Traveling home

Friday, April 29th, we boarded the bus to head back to Brookstone. During the first half of our ride home, a lot of us caught up on some much-needed sleep! But after a refreshing lunch from Chick Fil-A, I had the students open their DC Notebooks to reflect on their time.
See the rest of our trip on our Facebook or Instagram page @brookstoneschools. We’ll post some quotes from the students later today!

Student Quotes: Favorite Places

In regard to the favorite places in DC we visited and why, here are some quotes from the students:
“The U.S. Supreme Court was my favorite place. I thought the Justices were cool, and I am interested in becoming a Justice one day.” –Jaylen
“The Museum of the Bible [was the most interesting] because the New Testament film really detailed what happened during the time of Christ.”–Rozella
“I found the African American Museum of History and Culture most interesting. They went through so much, and it’s sad that they need a whole museum to show it.”–Siti
“For me, it was the Lincoln Memorial because Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had his famous speech there, and it was a great experience being able to go there.”—Duh
“I found the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial the most interesting. It is crazy how the statue [was intentionally] not finished because people are still fighting for justice and to be one. And I hope one day that statue will be finished completely, and this world can be together as one.”—Alba
“The U.S. Capitol and Rotunda painting of Pocahontas baptism—that Pocahontas gave her life to Christ and no matter if you grow up in a messed up household, you can turn your life around.”–Aliyah

Student Quotes: Favorite Speakers

In regard to favorites speakers, many impressions were made on our students as well:
“I found Shannon Bream to be very nice. I love that she’s trying to make Fox News better and how she’s an amazing woman of God.”—Cameron
“I found Bob Woodson to be the most interesting because he talked about ideas I have never heard before, such as how he turned gang members into coaches.”—Jaylen
“I found meeting U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black to be the most interesting because the speech he gave was amazing and his back story was really interesting and powerful to me.”—Alba
“Senate Chaplain Barry Black taught amazing life lessons—do everything twice, ask God for wisdom and for the Holy Spirit (James 1:5) each day.”—Aliyah
“I thought that Tim Goeglein was really cool and I liked the way he talked about his biggest failures.”—Jackson