Today I met the other National Distinguished Principals for the first time. We met for a brief reception and then gathered together with our guests to hear a two minute speech from each principal introducing him or herself, giving information about his or her state and about his or her school. Each principal was honored and so proud of his or her school. I received several gifts already. I received some staionary, a special pin and bookmark, a sweatshirt with the NDP logo on it and I found out that our school will receive a poster with all of the National Distinguished Principals on it. We found out that tomorrow along with getting our picture taken in front of the White House we will get to tour the grounds. Tonight we have a special reception at the National Archives where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution is stored. We are excited about this opportunity. Here are some pictures and a video of my two minute speech.
Mrs. Wheaton and I waited in line for about 30 minutes to enter the White House interior tour. The only way to get a reservation to tour the White House is to make a request through your Senator or Representative. You have to provide your driver’s license information and date of birth. When we went through the line, we were checked twice for proper identification and to ensure we were listed in “the book” correctly. Finally, we went through a security check for metal and even a search dog behind a gate. You are not allowed to carry anything into the White House except your cell phone. No photographs are allowed to be taken in the White House. If you use your cell phone, it can be taken from you!
Finally, we got to walk in and begin our tour which was self-guided. Secret Service agents are in each room to answer any questions that one may have. The original White House was built in 1800 and John Adams was the first president to live there. The address of the White House is 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Many additions and renovations have occurred throughout its history. The British burned the original White House to the ground during the war of 1812 and it was quickly rebuilt. James Monroe moved into the new house in 1817. Theodore Roseevelt, who needed space for his large family, added the West Wing and President William Howard Taft later added the first Oval Office. President Franklin D. Roosevelt intalled the Oval Office that exists today. Harry S Truman’s administration managed a complete overhaul of the building. A new steel infrastructure was put in place within the 150 year old building. A two story basement was built for storage, and the White House was rebuilt from the inside out. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy undertook the redecorating of the public rooms in the house. These include the Green Room, the Blue Room, and the Red Room. Tours of the White House include viewing the Vermeil Room, the China Room, the East Room, the Library, the Diplomatic Reception Room, the State Dining Room and the pass through entrance. The second and third floors of the White House are used only by the President and his guests. These areas are off limits to visitors.
I wish I could have taken pictures to share with you. The last time I visited the White House I was a young boy. Every thing I saw was magnificent and larger than life. There are many portraits of presidents and first ladies located throughout the house. The many rooms are used to entertain guests, provide meeting places for the signing of new legislation and where the President and First Family live their private lives.The beautiful artwork, bronze and marble statues were inspirational. The beautiful wood doors, ornate and beautifully carved furniture and decorations were awesome. The beautiful chandeliers are cleaned once per year. The grounds are manicured beautifully and I look forward to visiting the south portico lawn on Saturday. I overheard one boy who was visiting say: “I am glad that I don’t have to clean this house!” He is certainly right! It takes a lot of help to keep everything clean, dusted, and manicured. All the rugs are rolled up and you walk on a runner that protects the flooring from all of the visitors who walk through. Here is a close up picture of the north side of the White House entry taken when we left.
During my flight from Grand Rapids to Washington DC I read our book! I was impressed with how thoughtful all of you were. You spoke about taking care of those less fortunate by providing homes and giving money to those in need. You were passionate about caring for animals and humans who were sick or hurt. You wanted to lower gas prices and create jobs for more people. Some of you were very creative regarding your own concerns that made me laugh. More recess, more vacation and not having to go to school every day, etc. I have included a sampling from each grade level in the gallery. Enjoy reading these. President Obama is in New Hampshire and is not in Washington DC the whole time that I am here. I am hoping that Arne Duncan the Secretary of Education will accept our book and give it to the President.
What a beautiful day to travel to Washington DC. Mrs. Wheaton and I woke up early and traveled from our house to Grand Rapids to fly to Washington DC. I was worried about the tri-fold Michigan board that Mrs. Milka’s class made for me as I had to take it on the plane as carry on. It created some interesting situations on all flights, but I have to report that it is safely in my hotel room! The weather was gorgeous today, so every leg of our flight was early and on time.
So far so good! Now I had to get the Michigan tri-fold board to Washington DC. I talked to the desk attendant and she said that the flight attendants would find space for me. When I got on the flight, I suggested where Kathy found room and they said that wouldn’t work because it was a different type of jet, but they would find a place. Well, I watched Abby and Corey, our flight attendants look for a place to put this very large board and they finally had to put it in the cockpit! The pilot and co-pilot were so accommodating to find room for my Michigan board. After the flight, the pilot Tim invited me to sit in the cockpit! It was hard to fit my tall body into the pilot seat! Thanks to Delta and pilot Tim and flight attendants Abby and Corey who made sure my Michigan board made it to Washington DC!
We had safe travels to Washington DC and the weather when we arrived was absolutely gorgeous! Sunny and 70 degree temperatures. We picked up our luggage and got on the Super Shuttle to our hotel, the Capital Hilton.
Because the weather was so beautiful and our room was not ready, Mrs. Wheaton and I decided to take to the streets and walk to the National Mall and Memorial Sites. The first place we stopped was the White House. Tomorrow morning we get to visit the interior of the White House. You can’t take a camera with you, so I won’t be able to share any pictures of the inside, but I will share in writing what we were able to see. After our visit to the White House, we traveled on to visit the Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial Wall, Korean War Memorial, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and peeked at the Jefferson Memorial across the Tidal Basin! What a beautiful day of sightseeing! After our room was ready at the hotel, we checked in and put away all of our clothes. We ate at a beautiful restaurant called Filomena’s. It was an Italian restaurant and the food was excellent. Our waiters were very helpful and friendly. Before we left the hotel, I looked down on the floor and saw a light beam shining on the floor showing the National Distinguished Principal logo. Pretty impressive! We have had a long day and it is time to get to bed. We have a White House tour at 7:30am and that means getting up at 6AM, breakfast at 6:30am, and arriving at the White House by 7:15am. I better get to bed! Night, night, don’t let the bed bugs bite!
Today we had an all-school assembly to send Mr. Wheaton to Washington DC and to include all of the children in the adventure. Mr. Wheaton showed everyone the book that he will take to Washington DC to present to President Obama. He read a special book called Mr. President Goes to School by Rick Walton. The book tells the story of a fictional(make-believe) president who gets tired of all of the problems of the presidency to escape to a more simple place! He goes back to his elementary school! There he listens to stories, finger paints, builds with blocks, sits criss cross applesauce on the rug, eats cookies and milk, and does the Hokey Pokey(because that is what it is all about!) When he returns to the White House Oval Office, he is confronted with two heads of state who are arguing, name calling, and needing to resolve their differences. The President has them finger paint, build with chairs, serves cookies and milk, and they all do the Hokey Pokey together(because that is what it is all about!) The two heads of state decide to resolve their differences and use their words to solve problems. Mr. President slips out of the Oval Office the next day to go back to . . . where the world was a little simpler. I know after my visit to Washington DC, I look forward to returning to . . . where the world is a little simpler, Mattawan Early Elementary School! After the story, we all did the Hokey Pokey together and then the children watched a special video made for the National Distinguished Principals Class of 2011, so the children could see the events that Mr. Wheaton would be participating in. The children, and staff gave Mr. Wheaton a great send off before leaving on his trip tomorrow, Wednesday, October 17! I have included some pictures from the assembly, a short version of the story, the highlight video we watched, and a video of us doing the Hokey Pokey, because that’s what it’s all about!
Here is a short version of the story Mr. President Goes to School by Rick Walton
This morning several students and staff told me that I was on Channel 3 news and that they reported that I left for Washington DC already! Channel 3 news reported on the morning news about my receiving the National Distinguished Principal award and that I had left for Washington DC on Monday. As you know, I won’t be leaving until Wednesday morning! Tomorrow morning we will celebrate as a school family and I will read the book Mr. President Goes to School by Rick Walton and show the boys and girls the video from last year’s NDP 2011 program to give them some understanding of what I will be doing in Washington DC. Here is the link to the Channel 3 clip: Mr. Wheaton Left for Washington!
Only two days before I leave to Washington DC and I have a lot left to do, mostly packing! Tonight I am taking our book If I Were the President . . . to Kinko’s Copy Center to get it bound. I am hoping to be able to give it to President Obama, but if I do not see him, I plan on giving it to Arne Duncan the Secretary of Education who I am supposed to meet during the awards banquet. Mrs. Wheaton and I have been working on planning our itinerary(a fancy name for our travel plans) while we are in Washington DC. As I have posted before we will have a visit to the White House interior on Thursday morning and the White House garden grounds on Saturday. One of the evening receptions is held at the National Archives building. It is where our Constitution and the Declaration of Independence can be viewed. I am not sure if we will get to see these documents the evening of the reception, so I made reservations to return to the National Archives on Saturday afternoon. Here is a link to information about the National Archives: National Archives Reservation
Another special place we want to visit is the U.S. Capitol building. This is where our State Representatives and Senators make laws and plans for everyone in the United States. I will be visiting on Saturday and neither the senate or house of representatives will be in session. There is a special film to watch and then a tour of the capitol building. The architecture is beautiful and there are many works of art located in the capitol building. Here is a link to the capitol tour: U.S. Capitol
Another special place to visit is the Library of Congress in the Thomas Jefferson Building. The Library of Congress offers docent-led tours of the historic Thomas Jefferson Building. During the tour we will learn about the Building’s symbolic art and architecture and view the grandeur of the Main Reading Room. Professionally trained docents tell the story of the Library—America’s oldest cultural institution—by talking about its history, its collections (including the Gutenberg Bible), and the services provided to Congress and the nation.
When we arrive on Wednesday, after checking into our hotel, we plan on exploring the National Mall and Memorial Park where you can find the big reflecting pond, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial wall, and other historic sites. We will be able to view the Washington Monument from outside, but it is closed to the public for renovations due to an earthquake that occurred August 23, 2011. Here is the link to information about the National Mall and Memorial Park I have posted a map of the National Mall and Memorial Park. I better get packing!
Each day I check out the National Association of Elementary School Principals(NAESP) website to see if anything new has been published on the National Distinguished Principals page. Today I found a slideshow of all of the 60 some principals that I will be meeting and learning with in just a few days. I thought you may like to see the slide show as well. Just click on the link below, it will take you to the page. You will have to watch awhile until you see Mr. Wheaton! If you don’t want to wait to see my picture, click on the second link, it is a picture of me from the slideshow on Flickr, a photo sharing site.
This morning I went to Libins menswear store to pick up my tuxedo for Friday night’s special black tie ball when I am in Washington DC. Actually, my tuxedo does not have a black tie. I chose a vest and a tie that has a plum color that matches Mrs. Wheaton’s ball gown. The term black tie printed on the invitation tells people attending that the affair is a semi-formal event and an evening gown for women and a tuxedo for men is expected wear. If the invitation included the words white tie, then a man would be expected to wear a topcoat with tails, hat, cane, white shirt and definitely a white tie. The woman attending with him would be expected to wear a fancy ball gown. This is the most formal dress and men may often have white gloves they wear with this type of suit. Most people rent a tuxedo when they attend black tie events. People who attend black tie affairs frequently would buy a tuxedo to use as a tuxedo rental is expensive. The last time I tried on a tuxedo was 25 years ago when I married Mrs. Wheaton. Maybe you have worn a tuxedo or special gown if you were a ring bearer or flower girl in a relative’s wedding. You may have seen men wear tuxedos when they attend award ceremonies like the Academy Awards for film stars, the Emmys for television stars, or the Grammy Awards, for music stars. Maybe you have seen older brothers or relatives that have attended their high school prom, which is a special formal dance. They would rent a special tuxedo to wear to this event. I am glad that I tried my tuxedo on because the sleeves of the coat were too short. The tailor at Libins will fix it for me and I will pick up the coat on Monday evening. Check out Mr. Wheaton wearing his tuxedo! I will share many more pictures of me and Mrs. Wheaton at the awards ceremony Friday evening later in my blog.
Mrs. Larkin’s first grade friends wrote some travel advice for me about things to see and do in Washington DC. The bulletin board is posted in the first grade hallway. Some children are hoping that I meet the President. Others are hoping I visit the pandas given to us from China at the zoo. I have included a picture of the board in the hallway and then some closeups of some of the advice that the students gave me! Thank you Mrs. Larkin’s first grade class. Keep reading my blog and you will find out what I am able to do while I am in Washington DC!