Baker High School students visit Washington ‘close up’

The last week of April, 19 students from Baker High School – all juniors or seniors – got the chance to visit our nation’s capital as part of an extracurricular program known as Close Up, designed to give students an inside look at democracy in action.

 

Mt. Vernon was one of the many historical sites the students and chaperones visited on their trip to Washington, DC.
Mt. Vernon was one of the many historical sites the students and chaperones visited on their trip to Washington, DC.

 

Future Close Up students for Baker High School.
Future Close Up students for Baker High School.

Posted Friday, May 16, 2014

By Lori Kesinger

The last week of April, 19 students from Baker High School – all juniors or seniors – got the chance to visit our nation’s capital as part of an extracurricular program known as Close Up, designed to give students an inside look at democracy in action.

The Close Up Washington, D.C. program began in 1971, and now boasts a total of over 800,000 participants over the course of its 43 years and counting. According to their website, the Close Up program is nonprofit and nonpartisan, and works to create informed and engaged citizens through middle school and high school programs involving debates, tours, seminars, and more.

Baker students participated in activities and discussions with students from all over the country, to seeing Washington, D.C. monuments like the Arlington National Cemetery and the Lincoln Memorial. The students and seven chaperones toured nearly everything in the federal city and spent an additional three days visiting historical sites in New York City.

They spent a fascinating day at Mt. Vernon, the Newseum – a museum dedicated to our First Amendment Rights, the Holocaust Museum, and listening to a domestic issues debate between Barry Piatt (liberal) and Christ Malagisi (conservative).

“It was interesting seeing the room George Washington died in at Mt. Vernon,” said Kelly Brooks.

“At the Holocaust Museum, the piles of shoes and hair they took from the victims really stood out,” said Jeff Fisher.

They viewed the Jefferson, FDR, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorials and toured the Smithsonian Museum of American History where Lincoln’s hat he was assassinated in and the flag the “Star Spangled Banner” was inspired from were viewed.

Everyone gathered for a group photo at Capitol Hill and went to the WWII, Lincoln, Vietnam, and Korean Memorials.

The last day in Washington they took the Capitol tour including the Library of Congress, the Botanical Gardens, Museum of Natural History, and went to the top of the Kennedy Center to see the D.C. skyline. They viewed the Air Force and Iwo Jima Memorials at the end of the day.

“I never knew there were tunnels under the Capitol grounds. It was interesting to take the underground trains,” said Jase Rost, which was a privilege the group received for scheduling their tour through Montana Senator Tester’s office.

They visited many of the iconic sites in ‘The Big Apple’ – the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Times Square, Central Park, Rockefeller Center, Battery Park, and the Brooklyn Bridge. There was a solemn stop at the new World Trade Center Tribute Center and Memorial.

They took in a live Broadway show, “Mamma Mia”, negotiated crowded streets and ate at HB Burger for dinner. There was an abundance of diverse urban culture to take in, and they returned to their hotel tired every night.

“I was glad to see what it was like,” said Kalli Post.

“We learned a lot about politics and government,” all the students agreed. This once-in-a-lifetime tour won’t soon be forgotten by the students who participated.