Last week, Emerson Farm Middle school continued its an adventure to explore equality and our voice in government, visiting the Maryland State House.   Recently we have also visited historic landmarks in Maryland and hosted several speakers in our classroom in an attempt to understand the history of government and citizen’s rights here – and we invite learn more by visiting an album on our school’s Facebook page by following this link.

In Annapolis, by viewing sessions in both the state house and state senate, students witnessed the governmental process in all of its synergy.  We were fortunate to view the senate’s recognition of individual excellence by luminaries in the fields of business, science and education.  A spirited discussion concerning strengthening laws addressing the abuse of controlled substances was central to our exposure to the state house of representatives.

Following our experience with these august bodies, our class was treated to a tour of the Maryland State House.  Walking the halls of a building which briefly served as our nation’s capitol, we trod in the footsteps ofGeorge Washington, feeling almost a witness to his speech resigning as commander-in-chief.  We viewed the restored original chamber of the House of Delegates and traversed marble floors which have witnessed so much history.

This tour was followed by a stroll through the Government House, which is the governor’s residence.  This was as a trip through time, as the individual rooms are presented in period styles, ranging from colonial to the Gilded Age.  The students found value in expose to the tactile elements of history, such as period decor, silver sets, clocks and  portraiture.

Following our tour of Government House we gathered at the Thurgood Marshall memorial, reviewing his words and deeds and reflecting upon their contribution to equality.  During this portion of  our day, Governor Martin O’Malley took time to interact with our class, greeting the students and posing for several photographs before returning to the business of governing.

The afternoon was spent with a first hand exploration of the nuts and bolts of governing, where we viewed several committee hearings.  We heard expert testimony and testimony from concerned citizens, reveling in the give and take between legislators and their constituents.  The hearings we explored covered subjects ranging from such weighty matters as mercury pollution and union fees to the more mundane discussions of the merits of the Raven and the Oriole as state birds.

Overall, students ended the day with a much greater appreciation of the governmental process, the equality of our voices and the ease with which they can make their voices heard.