Jefferson Middle School students read about the Emancipation Oak Tree on the campus of Hampton University while on a DC STORM college tour. Courtesy of the Author

By Jay Shorter

On the weekend of June 23, the non-profit organization DC STORM, Inc (Students Taught Organization and Respect through Mentoring) took an educational/college tour to the Hampton Roads area in Virginia. The cultural event included 15 young men of DC STORM, Inc, plus mentors Jay Shorter, Ronald Hines, and Vaugh Meyers. The DC STORM, Inc. youth members attend Jefferson Academy Middle School and are 12-14 years of age.  The event was made possible with funding assistance from the Friends of Southwest DC Organization.

The tour included a trip to the campus of Hampton University.  After a short tour of the campus, the kids got a chance to climb and read about the Emancipation Oak Tree which is located on the campus of Hampton University. The Emancipation Oak Tree is designated one of the ten great trees of the world by the National Geographic Society and is part of the National Historic Landmark district of Hampton University. In 1863, this famous oak tree was where the Black people of the Hampton Roads area gathered to hear the first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation. 

The educational tour traveled to Fort Monroe where the DC STORM, Inc. group visited the Casemate Museum which covered the history of the defense of the southern part of the East Coast in the 1600’s from the British Naval invasion and later held Jefferson Davis as a prisoner after the American Civil War. The kids really enjoyed the sight of the cannons, cannon balls, and other ammunition during those areas of history.

In Norfolk, Virginia DC STORM, Inc. entered the Nauticus Science Museum. In the museum there were a lot of hands-on exhibits. The museum offered stories of history, culture, science, and technology. The kids also enjoyed climbing an obstacle course which ended with a sliding board.

The USS Wisconsin Battleship was part of the Nauticus Museum. The ship was accessible and massive. The kids got a chance to see and experience the workstations, the cafeteria area, the long cannons, and the sleeping quarter of our service members when they were involved with their offshore duties. During the entire educational tour the view of the Atlantic Ocean was incredible.

The DC STORM, Inc. young men also had some fun things to do on the tour.  They got to swim in the hotel swimming pool, play a little basketball and they spent time at a trampoline park. The funding support for this educational tour was made possible with the help of the Friends of Southwest DC. This event will be remembered by the young men of DC STORM, Inc. for a long time thanks to Friends of Southwest DC. 

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