TORONTO - Nine city high school seniors visited Washington, D.C., from March 4-11 to observe lawmakers in action and other historic sites as part of the Close-Up Program.
The seniors, which included Stephanie Calabrese, Mason Larkins, Brittany Yanik, Blake Wollam, Jeff Weidger, Cary Eckard, Mindy Meadows, Emily Price and Ollie Southern, met with local congressional representatives and visited several sites throughout the city, according to Meadows.
"We went to Capitol Hill and and met our senators and representatives," she said. "The first and second days we went as a group with other schools to visit the monuments and museums."
ON A TOUR – Nine seniors from Toronto High School, including, from left, Stephanie Calabrese, Mason Larkins, Brittany Yanik, Blake Wollam, Jeff Weidger, Cary Eckard, Mindy Meadows, Emily Price and Ollie Southern, visited the nation’s capital March 4-11 as part of the Close-Up Program. The seniors got to meet and watch lawmakers and see the the sites, including the Lincoln Memorial and several monuments dedicated to the nation’s war dead. -- Contributed
Some of those landmarks included the Lincoln Memorial, the John F. Kennedy Memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans' Wall Memorial, the Iwo Jima tribute, Arlington National Cemetery and the World War II Monument, the Sept. 11 Memorial and the Holocaust Museum, said Meadows.
"We walked around Arlington Cemetery and saw the changing of the guards," she said, adding the Sept. 11 Memorial dedicated to the victims of the terrorist attacks was profound. "They had benches at the memorial that faced in different directions."
Meadows added the names of all victims in the Twin Towers and the Pentagon who died during the attacks were part of the monument.
Yanik said the trip cost $1,700 per student for the week, and they stayed at the Washington Marriott Hotel while visiting.
"The school gave us some money, and we had to raise $1,500," she said, adding the majority was raised through fundraisers, including through a tag day at Wal-Mart, a spaghetti dinner and a Chinese auction.
Students said the trip was educational and memorable, and each site visited affected them in some way.
"The Sept. 11 memorial was really interesting because of the way it was set up," said Yanik.
"The Holocaust Museum really struck me about how horrible the way (Jews) were treated," said Eckard.
"I thought it was really interesting listening to other kids' opinions from around the country," said Meadows.
"I also liked the Sept. 11 Memorial because I'd already been to Washington, and I got to see something I hadn't seen before."
"My favorite site was the Korean War Memorial," said Blake. "It was unique and different from the rest."
Calabrese said she came away more educated about the nation and the world because of the visit.
"The one important thing I learned is that we are not the future - we are the now," she said.