Close Up gives students a “once in a lifetime experience”

Close Up gives students a

From left to right: Elizabeth Ellis, Mika Schmeling, Rachel Sellner, and Anna Horne enjoying last year’s trip.

Micaela Dea, Staff Writer

With visiting national monuments and even attending the 2013 Presidential Inauguration, Close Up Washington D.C. offers more than a typical tourist experience for high school students. The program, which is scheduled for April 20 through the 25, is geared towards educational standards while teaching civic responsibility, duty, and participation.

Mrs. Christy Harrington, Cathedral’s own economics and psychology teacher, serves as this year’s moderator for the fifth time in a row. However, Mr. Joe Fillippone will be the chaperone for this particular trip. Mrs. Harrington maintains that “Close Up is an educational program, not a sight-seeing tour. It is hands-on learning with D.C. insiders and a special access to D.C. ‘up close.'”

Close Up is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that is sponsored by private citizens, firms, and Congress. The trip provides many benefits, including a solid foundation for U.S. History and Government classes, a better understanding of the government, and an insight on the differences between Republicans and Democrats. This allows for students to recognize where they stand on important issues and opinions.

If you have any qualms about the strong focus on a primary educational experience, Rachel Sellner, a Cathedral sophomore and attendee of last year’s program, said, “I did enjoy the educational aspects because it wasn’t as if we were sitting around in a classroom; we were out and about doing things and [were] privileged to be learning at our country’s capital. You couldn’t be bored while listening.”

Another attendee last year, senior Anna Horne, who plans on voting for the next Presidential election, said, “It’s more than just reading about it in a textbook, or just seeing it; you learn the history, the story, and sometimes you get to be a part of it, too.”

Additionally, Close Up looks great on college applications. The University of Virginia offers one college credit for attending the trip.

The cost ranges from $1,800 to $2,000, and paid expenses cover flights, transportation, the hotel, three meals per day, and necessary program materials. Cathedral and Close Up both contribute towards the cost of the trip with financial aid based on need and number of requests.

“I think Close Up is a better organization than any other organization because they schedule debates [and you] visit important monuments and learn about them while you walk around; they have a specialized team of adults who know what they are doing and talking about,” Anna said.

The major perks of last January’s trip was visiting the Pentagon’s 9/11 memorial and observing the Presidential Inauguration, with the addition of a student version of the Inaugural Ball. Although the inauguration isn’t occurring this year for the trip, students will stillI get the chance to visit the Newseum, the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court, the National Mall, and the monuments and memorials.

The program and trip intermingle with other students around the country, and last years’ Cathedral attendees made friendships with students from all around the nation including Texas, Arkansas, Rhode Island, and Los Angeles.

Both Anna and Rachel highly recommend the trip not only to fully understand what goes on in our country, but also to get a sense of who you are as a voter and as a person under the government and its decisions.

Rachel said, “Honestly, just don’t hold back. Be outgoing, voice your opinion, and don’t miss a sight or lesson because it truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”