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The Student News Site of Santa Maria High School

The Breeze

The Student News Site of Santa Maria High School

The Breeze

The Student News Site of Santa Maria High School

The Breeze

SMHS Close Up Washington DC Trip 2024

Group+photo+of+the+Close+Up+Club+trip+to+Washington.+Photo+Provided+By+Ms.+Pineda
Group photo of the Close Up Club trip to Washington. Photo Provided By Ms. Pineda

Fifteen Santa Maria High School students traveled to Washington, D.C. on March 2nd for a week-long civics’ education program through the Close Up Foundation.

Students paid for their $2300 trip through a combination of club fundraising activities, grants, personal savings, and district support. They participated in a variety of activities during the week that included a mock Congress before meeting with their representatives on Wednesday. Students also met with Representative Salud Carbajal (24th Congressional District) and Senator Alex Padilla, as well as staff representatives from Senator Laphonza Butler’s office.

“I was really proud of our students. They voiced their concerns to our representatives about current problems with the FAFSA, immigration policy, and other issues, in addition to being very vocal in their mock Congress.” – Amy Hennings Club Advisor

Students were also able to visit the Saudi Arabian Embassy, and even met with the current ambassador, Reema bint Bandar Al Saudi, the first woman in Saudi Arabian history to serve as ambassador.

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“I was able to learn a lot about perspective regarding foreign countries, specifically Saudi Arabia. We had the privilege to go into the Saudi Arabian embassy in which we met with the princess who is also the ambassador of Saudi Arabi. She talked a lot about the perspective of the country and how she views people as equals no matter their skin color or background.” – Alexis Vargas, 12th grade

Students took in study visits to several national monuments including the Lincoln and FDR Memorials, and Arlington National Cemetery, in addition to watching a theater production at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. While in Washington, they visited the National Archives, which houses our nation’s founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights. Additional stops included the Washington Monument and Ford’s Theater, where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

Reflecting on her last day in D.C., Sarahi Martinez (12th grade) stated, “We started the day off by visiting Ford’s Theatre and ended it by exploring other museums we didn’t get to explore before. What I also liked was that we got to learn what Lincoln’s last day was like. Overall, I think it was a great experience and hope others get the chance to experience it as well.’’

Santa Maria High teachers and Close Up Advisors Amy Hennings and Richard Guiremand, who have taken students to Washington for more than 20 years, arranged additional activities as well as a visit inside the White House.

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  • The Close Up Club in front of the White House. Photo Provided By Ms. Pineda

  • The Close Up Club group photo in front of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Photo Provided By Ms. Pineda

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Students participated in the program with other youth from a variety of other states including Arkansas, New York, North Dakota, and many other areas of the country, providing them with new perspectives and a deeper understanding or our country and its diversity.

“This program is not only an incredible educational experience for our students, but it also provides cultural experiences for our students that are life changing,’’ Hennings added.

“The shifts in cuisine, demographics, and the atmosphere are the focal differences I noted in Washington D.C. The commonwealth is abundant in culture which is a change of pace from Santa Maria. They (DC natives) are determined people that have a sense of discipline which I haven’t seen before.” – Alexis Bravo, 12th grade

Close Up is a nonpartisan, nonprofit civic education program dedicated to helping students learn how to make a difference in their communities.

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