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Students explore Washington DC, New York City

September 05, 2018

Students explore Washington DC, New York City

By: Abby Kaup and Andrea Hoffman

On June 3, 12 students and their two sponsors left for a trip they would never forget. They traveled to Washington D.C. and New York City through an organization known as Close Up.

According to Close Up, their mission is “Close Up informs, inspires, and empowers young people to exercise the rights and accept the responsibilities of citizens in a democracy.”

The students who attended were West Point—Beemer graduates Kalli Meyer, Leigh Jahnke, Tate Ernesti, Holly Hansen, Destiny Bales, incoming West Point—Beemer seniors Haley Chambliess, Rebecca Weddell, Andrea Hoffman, Abby Kaup, Kendra Paasch, and Ashton Troyer, and one incoming senior from Guardian Angels Central Catholic, Dylan Duhsmann. Leading the group were WPBHS history teachers Keith Eriksen and Steihl Reeves.

  On the first night, all participants were organized into seven “workshops”; over the next five days they would tour, debate, and learn more about the government in the workshops. The workshops included students from all over the country.

On Monday, the tours began. Each workshop began the day by visiting the Jefferson Memorial, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial. At the end of the night, the workshops participated in public policy debates about current issues. These debates focused on climate change, the opioid epidemic, youth voting, and gun violence in schools.

The U.S. Air Force Memorial was the first tour stop Tuesday morning. The students were then bused to the WWII, Korean, Vietnam, and Lincoln memorials. In the afternoon, the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial was the focus of study.

Wednesday was Capitol Hill Day. During the day, the students went with their school sponsors and met their state representatives. The West Point students were given a tour of the Capitol and had the opportunity to watch the Senate and House of Representatives in action. The West Point students also visited the Holocaust Museum.

 Kendra Paasch, a student on the trip, said that her favorite part of the trip was “the Holocaust Museum because you could see so much of the death and pain that the victims suffered, and it was truly eye opening.”

At night, the West Point students were allowed to tour the Lincoln, WWII, and Korean memorials in the dark.

Thursday morning began with touring the Arlington National Cemetery. Over lunch, each workshop toured different neighborhoods and studied the culture of the people and businesses in the neighborhood. The afternoon consisted of taking a closer look at the White House. The night ended with a farewell dinner and dance.

On Friday, the West Point students, along with students from Montana and Wyoming took a bus from Washington D.C. to New York City. The first stop was Central Park and then the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is located in the park. At the end of the night, the students watched the Broadway performance “The Waitress.”

The last day of the trip began with tours of Ellis Island and Liberty Island. The students took a ferry and got a close-up look the Statue of Liberty and saw the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. One of the most emotional parts of the trip was the 9/11 Memorial. In the afternoon, the students walked on the Brooklyn Bridge. They ended the day by going to Rockefeller Plaza, where they traveled 70 stories high to get breathtaking views of New York City at sunset.

The cost to attend the Close Up trip was $2,562.00. However, the students who attended last year were able to raise money through several fundraisers to help pay for their trip. These fundraisers included: selling Krispy Kreme donuts, selling candles, and doing tip nights at both Pizza Hut and Pizza Ranch. How active the students were in fundraising dictated how much they had to pay; one student paid $750 out of pocket, and one student paid $1,470.

The students also received several grants from generous organizations that helped cover many of their costs. One of the biggest donors was the Dinklage foundation, who provided $750 per student. Tracy Oligmueller also provided the students with free t-shirts and bag tags.

Eriksen, the main sponsor, said that his favorite part of the trip was “seeing the students’ faces of excitement when we were on top of the Rockefeller Plaza and taking pictures 70 floors up. It was a really neat view and a perfect ending to a great trip.” He is planning to make the Close Up trip an annual event. He is currently looking for students to attend next year’s trip from June 2-9, 2019.




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