Close Up Serves as Hands on Learning Experience for Students

Samyuta Rajagopalan

Juniors and seniors in high school from all over the nation gather around in awe as just being in the city of Washington D.C brings a smile to their faces. They soon begin their busy schedules of visiting monuments, participating in mock congressional debates and taking tours of important federal buildings, such as the capital. Being able to see the notably perfect structure of a monument in front of them allows them to enjoy learning about its history and participating in the hands on learning process allows the knowledge they gain to last a lifetime.

Close Up is an annual trip that gives high school students the opportunity to learn more about history and the functionality of the government. It allows them to get a close up look at how civics and the government works at the federal level. This year, the trip was from January 20 to January 25 and 12 students from Tompkins attended, one of them being senior Jessica Scheffler.

“I really enjoyed the Close Up trip as I feel like I learned a lot,” said Scheffler. “It was such an empowering experience that everyone was very much involved in and I think that made a huge difference.”

Although this is an annual trip, the places visited in Washington D.C. varies. AP U.S. History teacher Christina Ferrari was the chaperone. This is Ferrari’s fifth year chaperoning and every year she learns something new.

“I love getting to go on this trip with the students and see what their opinions are on the activities we do,” said Ferrari. “I lived in Washington D.C. for three years, and I am still fascinated by the city and how it works, so I can only imagine what a new experience it would be for the kids.”

Every year, the goal of this trip is to get students out of their comfort zone and expose them to issues occurring outside of Katy and the local government. This year, the students who attended were able to experience a mock congress and learn about the different facets of lobbying and what the passing of a law looks like. They visited monuments, memorials and took a tour of the capitol building. Additionally, they listened to political defendants talk about issues that are currently afflicting the government and participated in guided discussions about various topics.

“I have had students who tell me that they want to work here someday after visiting, so it is really neat that this trip broadens their horizons on career options,” said Ferrari. “By the time students are a junior or senior in high school, they begin to manage their own destiny, so it is important that they get to experience things like this that have such a positive effect on them and can help them do that.”