Each year, schools in Katy ISD and others around the nation offer a school funded trip to Washington D.C. for juniors and seniors. This trip, called the Close Up, extends over the course of a week and is full of amazing opportunities for students. It gives students an insight into the way the government operates and allows them to form their own opinions on the government as a whole.
“I would definitely recommend this trip to rising juniors and seniors because it is such a unique and amazing way to experience the nation’s capital. Being immersed in D.C. for an entire week allowed me to learn so much about the city and its history and made me appreciate the history behind all of the sites and memorials,” said senior Rachel DeGroot.
The first day of the trip was Jan. 14. The students flew into D.C., had a welcome dinner and an introductory workshop. The next day, the students visited past presidents’ memorials, discussed the Pentagon, the impacts of 9/11 and delved deeper into current political issues. On the third day of the trip, the students visited Capitol Hill, attended a National Politics Seminar, visited war memorials and held a mock Congress meeting. The fourth day was Capitol Hill day, which is where the students attend congressional committee hearings, meet with their members of Congress, explore the library of Congress and visit the Supreme Court. The attendees were allowed to walk through the President’s neighborhood, had a closing reflection and a farewell dinner on the fifth day. On the final day of the trip, the students were allowed to sightsee before going home.
“Each day we visited sites that were historic or unique to Washington D.C. Throughout the week we visited war memorials, memorials to honor significant people in history, such as Martin Luther King and Thomas Jefferson, the Capital building, and Arlington Cemetery among a few other places. Along with these visits, we were placed into workshop groups where we discussed how what we saw in D.C. that day connected to the current political situation, and we applied it through debating one another or, for example, one night we had a mock Congress session,” said DeGroot.
The Close Up is offered to students in every state in the U.S. as well as internationally and serves as an enhancing experience for anyone studying U.S. government or history. It also allows those attending to experience things most people have only seen pictures of or read about. Through this trip, students are given the opportunity to learn more and explore history more extensively with peers from their own school and across the nation.
“This week spent in our nation’s capital is outside of the norm for so many reasons. Moreover, it is not just sightseeing even though you will do that as well. It is a trip that looks at the nation’s capital in a different way. Much like the name implies it is a ‘close up’ look at our government, and how it runs from the inside out or the outside in, depending on how you look at it. This trip can change the general trajectory of your life if you want and allow it to,” said trip chaperone, teacher Christina Ferrari.