Sixteen years of traveling to Washington, D.C., with eighth-grade students has never gotten old for Dave Swallie.

Sixteen years of traveling to Washington, D.C., with eighth-grade students has never gotten old for Dave Swallie.

"Every year I learn or see something new and different," said the seventh-grade social studies teacher from Weaver Middle School.

A coffin has passed by the Hilliard students and staff at Arlington National Cemetery and on another occasion taps were heard in the background. The group watched one time as the presidential helicopter flew overhead.

This year Swallie was excited that he and the Weaver students could be in the Nation's Capitol at the same time as Honor Flight, which transports veterans to Washington, D.C., to see the veterans' memorials.

They made arrangements in advance and met up at the World War II Memorial.

Bill Richards, a teacher at Hastings Middle School in Upper Arlington, and his wife, Bobbi, accompanied the Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., and invited the Hilliard students to talk with the veterans.

Hilliard eighth-grade student Michaela Cunningham said she enjoyed hearing the stories shared by the veterans.

She talked with a widow of a veteran, who told of the experiences of that day and how they frequented dances.

Richards told Swallie and the students that he had someone he wanted them to meet and he returned with Sen. Bob Dole.

"My understanding is that he has only missed one Honor Flight throughout the years," Swallie said of Dole, "and that was due to a wedding he had to attend."

At one point Swallie looked around for the students and found about half of them sitting on the bus talking with veterans.

Each veteran is accompanied by a guardian, and one of the guardians was a veteran's son.

"Thank you," Swallie recalled the guardian saying, "you don't know what this means to my father."

It is important, Swallie said, to tap into the stories of the veterans, who are like walking history books, before they are no longer around to share the details.

"That was probably the most emotional I've ever been in Washington," said Swallie, who inherited organizing the trip from a retired teacher who launched it during the Bicentennial.

Eighth-grade student Lauren Hoover said the World War II Memorial was beautiful at night.

"It's kind of like a big circle and in the middle is a big fountain and it is all lit up," she said. "Around the outside it has all the states and names."

Hoover could not tell from the pictures what D.C. was like. Now that she has visited the city, she said, it makes her want to learn more.

"We learned a lot of cool facts," she said.

In Arlington National Cemetery, Hoover was struck by number of graves and the fact that all of the headstones are the same height.

Cunningham was amazed by the Vietnam veteran's wall.

"When you say how many people died," she said, "it doesn't seem like a lot until you see it and how long it is and then it really makes you think."

The beauty in the architecture of the buildings also piqued her interest.

"Like the Capitol and the cathedral," she said, referring to the National Cathedral.

Because of it was a three-day whirlwind trip to D.C., Swallie said, they were unable to make it inside many of the buildings.

"This was the first year we didn't go in the Archives," he said. "There is always a line and to try and get 85 of us through at one time. We figured there was too much else for us to do to stand in line for an hour and a half."

Hoover said she would like to return and go inside the National Archives.

"I think it's really neat that there are a lot of important documents in there that are 200 years old that are really important to our country," she said.

They visited the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Memorial, the Tomb of the Unknowns, walked the loop past the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress.

Eighth-grade student Wes Jeffers said he enjoyed seeing the White House from the exterior and going through Lafayette Park, but was intrigued by the woman who has been protesting nuclear arms outside the White House since 1981.

The capitol was another major point of interest for him, because of the "amazing" things that occur inside.

Mount Vernon was also at the top of the list for Jeffers.

"The bus ride hypes you up," he said. "The bus driver filled in the key details, things you wouldn't notice."

Swallie said he would like to have the bus driver, who has been on the Hilliard eighth-grade tours of D.C. for 15 of his 16 years, come to visit the school and share his wealth of information.

For Jeffers the trip was not just about seeing the sites or learning historical facts, it was also about being with friends and playing water polo in the hotel pool.

For many of the students, Swallie said, it is their first trip to the Nation's Capitol, but it is also the first time for an airplane flight.