Eight Morgan School students will be using their free time over April vacation, not to catch up on sleep or hang out, but instead to learn and absorb everything they can about government in Washington, D.C. Chaperoned by history and civics teacher Mike Graham and English teacher Eric Bergman, the students will take the train to the capital as part of the national Close Up program.
Riley Cronin, Matt Granfield, Angie Cook, Abbie Andrews, Ty Byington, Jenna Eagan, Shelby Mehmet, and Vivian Tran will meet with federal officials, take part in debates, and learn about United States history and civics. They'll also be living, learning, and sharing ideas with other like-minded high school students from across the country, including Texas, Florida, Washington, Alabama, New Hampshire, Idaho, and California.
Graham, who has been taking students on this trip since 2011, said, "The Close Up program uses trained instructors to ensure that the students have the most rewarding and fun experience possible, while they are also learning valuable lessons that complement their history and government classes at home."
He added, "I think students nowadays need to have more hands-on learning experiences, and this trip is a great way to get them out learning, instead of just reading it in a textbook."
This unique April vacation trip will afford students the chance to meet with Congressional representative during Capitol Hill Day as well as experience Supreme Court hearings, legislative sessions, and committee meetings on the Hill.
For Mehmet, this will be her first visit to D.C.
"I want to learn everything I possibly can about the government in hopes that maybe in the future I can use that knowledge to help change things," said the high school junior, who hopes to meet the President and chat about his views on marijuana legalization.
To offset the $1,400-per-person cost for the trip, the group has held several fundraisers such as a pasta dinner, sub sandwich sales on Super Bowl Sunday, and chocolate bar sales. In addition, the Board of Selectmen and Clinton Police Benevolent Association leaders Jerry Dunn and Brian Peligreni donated funds for the program.
Upon returning from their Washington adventure, the Morgan students will attend a May Clinton Board of Selectmen meeting to thank the board for its support and to report back what they learned in the capital.