Fourth graders visit Alabama Capitol

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

Fourth graders from Brantley School recently took an educational journey to visit Alabama’s Capitol building and State House, a field trip orchestrated by teachers Regina Parker and Ashley Simmons.

“Alabama history is very important and should be taught to all fourth graders in the state,” Parker said. “I think every fourth grader should know how our state government works and at Brantley School we are blessed to have administrators like Mr. Marcus Taylor and Mrs. Sara Driggers Osborne, who support these efforts to enrich our students.”

During the Jan. 19 field trip, the students explored the historic building’s chambers and corridors before navigating through the underground tunnel connecting the historic building to the State House.

Representative Chris Sells, a key figure in Alabama’s legislative landscape, welcomed the students to the State House, providing insights into his role and responsibilities. Information Officer for the Alabama House of Representatives Clay Redding, along with Sells, educated the students about the legislative process, illustrating how a bill evolves into law. The highlight of the field trip was a mock voting session on a hypothetical bill, allowing the young learners to experience democracy in action. 

Parker emphasized that the hands-on approach brought the abstract concept of lawmaking to life, providing the students with a tangible understanding of their state’s governance. Parker said she wanted to acknowledge Redding’s enduring efforts to educate Alabama’s youth throughout his over 20 years of service and the Brantley fourth grade presented Redding with a plaque, expressing gratitude for his dedication to Alabama students.

The tour concluded with a lunch held in the tunnel, where the students were joined by a special guest, Casey Rogers, who oversees external affairs in the Governor’s Office. Rogers, a former student of Parker’s, distributed goody bags from the governor’s office to each student, offering valuable insights into the executive branch and the governor’s role in state governance, further enriching the students’ understanding.

Fourth grader Noelle Dire said she really enjoyed the field trip.

“My trip to the capital was amazing,” Dire said. “My favorite part was the dome with paintings on it. It was really pretty. I learned a lot about Alabama history and how people vote on bills.”

Although Parker is not the fourth-grade history teacher at Brantley, her passion for history is evident and she expressed appreciation for her supportive co-teacher, Mrs. Simmons, whose efforts greatly contributed to the success of this educational collaboration and all their joint educational endeavors.