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By CELEST KRISKA, staff writer
Six middle school students from Sidney C. Huntington School are traveling to Washington, D.C. to attend Close Up on April 18. Their academic advisors are Trisha Esmailka, a language arts teacher at the GILA campus, and Jessalyn Reiter, who teaches at the elementary school.
The six students are Grace Boyers, Jade Thurmond, Larry Wholecheese, Cassidy Huntington, Milo Huntington, and Aaren Sommers.
The goal of Close Up is to learn about the U.S. government and its history in person, said Dr. Tamera Huntington, who organized the trip in 2016. The students will see the presidential monuments, the war memorials, and the Smithsonian museums with a history expert who gives them a live history lesson. They will visit the White House, see the Supreme Court in session, and lobby for or against an actual bill in Congress. They will also tour Williamsburg.
When the students land in Washington D.C., they will spend a day at the National Museum of the American Indian for the Living Earth Festival, and then see the memorial under construction for Native American Veterans. Then they will spend three days touring Washington D.C., including Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon, and one day touring Williamsburg.
All of the people helping with Close Up have raised $36,991 as of the time of this writing and they need about $3,000 more. They have a raffle in progress.
Unfortunately, they will probably not meet their representatives, though sometimes they do get a chance. They will be doing workshops in D.C. while touring such as “Understanding the Role of a Good Citizen” at the FDR and MLK memorials, and “Characteristics of a Good Law” at the Library of Congress. Close Up offers a follow-up curriculum to teachers who participate. Teachers who chaperone get their own workshops and tours with other teachers so that they can learn at their own level and bring it home for their class room.
In 2016, Dr. Huntington brought middle school students to Washington D.C. to the same program. This year, she is only doing the fundraising.