By Jason Groth
Nine Greenway High School Students recently went on a trip of a lifetime as part of the Greenway Close Up program. Seri Geisler, Miracle Edminster, Jade Chastan, Emily Broich, Laura Hicks, Austin Maasch, Jordan Ranta, Mariel Chamberlain and Cassandra Richtsmeier traveled to Washington D.C. to see democracy in action.
Close Up is a national program that was established in 1971. It partners with schools and youth programs to facilitate the development of the skills and attitudes necessary to become informed and engaged citizens, according to its mission statement.
“It’s always a good opportunity to help kids learn things in an authentic way that we can’t teach them within the context of what we do in school every day. There are certain experiences that you can’t recreate in a video clip or a text book passage,” Greenway Close Up Advisor Will Floersheim said. “Having kids be able to walk in the National Mall and step in the same place that Martin Luther King did in 1963 - you can’t recreate that in a school as hard as you may try.”
Floersheim says the event is an eye opener for the group of students that participate in the annual trip to Washington D.C.
“Everything is so big to them when they get out there,” Floersheim said. “It’s interesting the first time we get to the National Mall. You see kids looking in each different direction. They find the Capitol one way, the White House one way and the Lincoln Memorial the other way. That instant, to be able to see that look on their faces where it becomes real for them, is powerful beyond words.”
It’s a very busy trip that includes several events. According to Floersheim the students attend the changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery. He appreciates that Close Up allows students those opportunities.
“A big part of the trip was getting to know other kids from all over the state and all over the country,” Maasch said. “All the people were really awesome. Right away, we went to the president’s memorials as well as the recently made MLK memorial. A lot of debating went on all week. We had a mock congress that went on during the event. I saw a lot of things that I never really got to see before.”
Maasch says the trip to the World War II Memorial was one that he wouldn’t forget and that he was impressed with the features of Memorial itself. He added that the images from the Memorials will never leave him.
“It was a really serious and respectful moment to see those and it was an honor,” Maasch said. “There is a lot of vivid imagery that you can see.”
Geisler says it was an event that she learned a lot from and she enjoyed seeing the behind the scenes activities that take place with our government. One of her favorite events was the mock congress event that took place - where students debated certain bills. She reported learning a great deal.
“It was a very good experience. I got to learn a lot more about how our government works and just the behind the scenes things that go on about it that you don’t know about,” Geisler said. “It was cool to see how it all worked first hand. I liked talking to our senators, representatives and doing our mock congress with our workshops and entire groups.”
Maasch added that it’s a trip in which every high school student should participate.
“I would recommend this,” Maasch said. “It’s a great experience and it’s one of those once in a lifetime things. It’s worth all the fundraising and the trouble you have to go through. It’s not that bad if you get a jump on it. It’s a great time and a lot of fun.”
Floersheim says it is one of the best opportunities that Greenway has to give kids within the district. He was happy to see the students work hard to get the best out of the trip that they could.