A group of West Gate Elementary School students went on a field trip of a lifetime in Washington, D.C., last week. In addition to visiting the National Mall, students got a personal invitation from first lady Melania Trump to visit the White House.
The trip happened almost one year after the first lady visited West Gate to learn more about the school’s Social Emotional Learning curriculum. SEL is a 20-minute requirement for grades K through second, five days a week.
Also, a two- to three-day requirement for grades three through five is incorporated into academics. District administrators, faculty and staff say the curriculum reduced the bullying rate. And last spring the first lady visited the school to see the results.
“Nothing is impossible,” said Ryan Dockter, West Gate Elementary physical education coach. “I mean we did something that people will never do in their lifetime.”
On Jan. 10, the first lady invited 11 fifth graders to the White House to learn more about the curriculum in person. It's a program in-line with her Be Best initiative that tackles well-being, online safety and opioid abuse.
“I thought it was really cool that the first lady learned stuff from the SEL program, too. And she’s been trying to apply it to her own life,” said Mariluna Padron, West Gate Elementary student.
Students also say the rare invite opened their eyes to new career aspirations.
“It was inspired,” said Rayelynn Caphart, West Gate Elementary student. “It was important for me to see a woman Secret Service agent because I really didn’t think they would allow or even have a woman Secret Service agent.”
“There’s no limits,” added Dockter.
The meeting with the first lady was a surprise addition to the school's annual safety patrol trip for fifth grade students. You can learn more about the first lady's Be Best initiative here.