CLOSE UP GALS — Close Up students at the African-American Civil War Memorial in Washington, D.C. From the left are Megan Fetters, Erin Awtrey, Alex Gage, Justine Desjardin, Kristine Warlick and Caitie Bach. Photo for the I-O courtesy of DJ Mecham
Submitted to I-O by Erin Awtrey & DJ Mecham
Juniors of Conrad High School had an amazing opportunity to go to the nation’s capital March 25-30 through the Close-Up program. They had a rocky start and were unable to leave on March 25 due to a flight cancellation. On Monday, they were able to leave for D.C. and after a long flight, found themselves above the web of lights making up Baltimore, Washington D.C. and Arlington.
Tuesday activities included taking guided tours of the WWII Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. Historical background was provided for all the sights and students were given the opportunity to debate various issues associated with the memorials in work groups made of various students across the nation.
That night at the hotel, the students participated in a mock congress and worked to pass or kill various bills using the same procedure used in the Legislative branches of American government. The mock congress gave students an opportunity to share their opinions on many hot topics of modern politics and hear various sides of the debated issues from fellow students.
On Wednesday, students toured the Capital building and met with Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus and Representative Denny Rehberg. They were able to ask questions about the Congressman’s stance on various political subjects as well as share their own opinions.
Thursday, students participated in “Free Day” activities which included visiting the Holocaust Museum or touring the Smithsonian, shopping at one of the malls and going to the Who-dun-it Play “Shear Madness” at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. They also visited Arlington Cemetery where they saw John F. Kennedy’s grave and witnessed the Changing of the Guard outside the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a ceremony that one student described as “both remarkable and a little scary.”
Finally, on Friday the Conrad students visited the various sights and memorials they missed because of their flight delay, such as the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the FDR Memorial and the White House exterior.
Close-Up was an educational trip which taught the juniors who attended not only about how American government works in D.C., but also about their own role in America’s politics. Various debates and discussions help them open up and express their personal views on political subjects as well as hear other opinions in a non-confrontational setting.
Everyone came back with a better understanding of how important their participation in the government is as well as an increased knowledge of D.C. and American History and Politics. Conrad Close-Up was a resounding success with all the students who went and this year’s sophomore students should start planning now because Close-Up is an experience well worth having.