Why the D.C. trip is worth it

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Kylie Best traces over the the name of a family friend on the Vietnam Memorial Wall

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Pictured top, from left, are trip participants Keegan Franklin, Kylie Best, Margaret Girardin, Gil Diaz, Andres Vehr. Bottom, from left, are Edmund Wong, Kelsey Yurek, Troy Kramer, Celia Dubauskas and Nick DesMarais.

By Troy Kramer

Over spring break this year, 10 seniors traveled with AP U.S. History teacher Robert Gwinn to Washington, D.C. to get a “close up” look at the nation’s capitol.

The annual senior Washington, D.C. trip with the Close Up Foundation encourages students to learn about government and interact with other students from across the country.

The Close Up Foundation is a non-profit organization that works to inspire and encourage young adults to engage in political discussion and find interest in our nation’s government.

Gwinn said, “Every year, the students are pleasantly surprised at how much they do on the trip. Between visiting monuments and memorials, meeting important political figures and interacting with other students from across the U.S., there is not a lot of downtime.”

The students visited 18 national monuments, memorials, museums and public official buildings, including the Lincoln Memorial, the Holocaust Museum and the White House.

Kylie Best traces over the the name of a family friend on the Vietnam Memorial Wall
Kylie Best traces over the the name of a family friend on the Vietnam Memorial Wall

“The students get to talk to political figures, debate hot-button issues in the news and discuss bills being presented in Congress. This experience is more of an immersion trip rather than a sightseeing opportunity,” Gwinn added.

Gil Diaz, senior at NDP and participant in this year’s trip, said, “You do not get these kinds of opportunities we had on this trip when you just go with your family or friends. We got to meet Senator Jeff Flake and hear Ralph Nader speak.”

He added, “The trip was so well scheduled that we were able to visit a bunch of memorials and monuments every day. If I did it alone, it would have taken me twice as long to do all the things we did!”

The 10 seniors on the trip were integrated in the program with more than 250 other students from across the country, sharing hotel rooms, participating in group activities and making new friends along the way.

Margaret Girardin said, “This trip forced us all to step a little bit out of our comfort zones to meet new people, which I found to be really fun. My roommates turned out to be some of my best friends on the trip.”

The annual trip costs roughly $2,000 per student to cover the costs of travel, lodging, food, transportation and various admission fees all the places the students visit.

She said, “It is well worth the price to go on the Washington, D.C. trip. We visit places all over the city, meet public leaders, discuss current events and topics and have a ton of fun along the way. I would go back if I could.”

Students should go on the trip because it provides students with the opportunity to make new friends, become informed about government and political issues and see the history of the United States up close.

Gwinn said, “Even students who have been to Washington, D.C. before should go on this trip because it is unlike anything they may have done before. This trip gives students the opportunity to learn about our nation’s history while teaching them the importance of involvement in current events and politics.”