Students travel to Washington for Close-Up trip

The Newtonite

[media-credit name=”courtesy of Maria Rudorf” align=”alignnone” width=”300″][/media-credit]

Sophomores Michaela Mastroianni, Ana Horn , Maria Rudorf, Roz Aronow and Sophie Aronow pose in front of a waterfall.

by Gloria Li

Gaining a new perspective and making lasting friendships are a couple aspects of what students, who travel to Washington D.C. on the annual Close-Up trip, experience.

The Close-Up trip, which took place from Monday, March 4 to Friday, March 9, allows students to become active participants in the flurry of activity of the nation’s capital.

This year, students “stayed active participants despite the inactive do-nothing congress at the moment,” according to history and social sciences teacher Ty Vignone.

“The kids were all still extremely lively, which was great,” he said.

Vignone noted that throughout the trip, the students were able to incorporate what they had learned from the past year not only into their discussions, but into other aspects of the trip, as well.

According to sophomore Michael Shale, meeting with a lot of other people and discussing personal views versus those of the textbook, “educated us and gave us insight on all different monuments and memorials.”

At the monuments, students were given pieces of paper and topics of discussion. Shale claimed that he enjoyed this activity, as it gave the purpose of each monument but allowed for freedom of choice in that the students could decide among suggestions of what to discuss.

The trip was less guided than he thought it would be. Students were dropped off and split up into groups and given around an hour or so to look at monuments and at the surrounding areas.

Students from Connecticut, Alabama, Hawaii, Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming, among those from other locations, participated in Close-Up.

“Most states don’t have Close-Up programs or specific Close-Up classes,” Shale said.

Some students partook on the trip with their history class, but “no other school had as many people going in one group as ours did,” he said.

This school brought 48 students on the trip, while most others had around ten.

“When you have such a big group you might be hesitant to meet other people, but that was not an issue for me,” Shale claimed.

Junior William McKelvey said that everyone participated in an elective workshop, as well as viewed monuments.

He said his highlight of the trip was meeting Representative Barnie Frank and Senator Scott Brown.

The dance on the last night of the trip was an additional touch that added to the excitement of the trip, McKelvey said.

McKelvey’s favorite part of the experience was “being able to learn about peoples’ various views and such.” In fact, he said he wished that he had more free time to just talk with people and just not be academically involved the entire time.

Senior Kate Nash went on the trip from last year..

She, like McKelvey, meeting the senate and representatives, and her favorite part of the trip was seeing a debate between a liberal and a conservative, she said.

“It opened my mind to new ideas,” she said.

Nash noted that it would have been “exciting to see a bill being debated in the house or the senate,” but during their compact 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily schedule, they were unable to fit that in.

She said that it was one of her most memorable experiences and “would recommend it because you get to see how the government actually works, which is pretty cool.”

Nash’s favorite aspect of the trip was the same as junior Jessie Sherman’s.

Sherman said he watched a debate in which a gay, liberal man argued against a conservative man, who said he was for gay rights, but gay people should not be allowed to marry because their children would be mentally unstable.

According to senior Richard Comstock, who went on the trip last year, he observed a debate between two partisan journalists.

The debate “was eye opening for us, especially since we were from Newton,” he said.

He said it allowed him to truly understand that there are people with radically different ideas from those of his and his classmates.

“It was refreshing to listen to the points of view of people from a completely different area and then have the ability to talk to them about it openly without  people just screaming at each other,” Comstock said.

According to Sherman, despite the long hours travelling from one monument to another and the early wake-up times, “Close-Up is amazing.”

“The only thing I would change would be that the trip should have lasted longer,” she said.

Junior Stephanie Giang said, “There was so little time that I personally didn’t get to do all that I wanted to.”

She recommends that others learn from her, as she claimed that she did not prepare herself sufficiently for the trip.

Giang claims that prior to the trip, she didn’t take Close-Up as seriously as it should have been taken. After having been on the trip though, she came out with much more knowledge and more willingness to learn.