by Jenny Chissus, photos in below slideshow by Jenny Chissus
Seven of our students from Susan B English had the opportunity to enjoy an amazing trip this year! Thanks to our generous and supportive community of family and friends in Seldovia; Aidan, Calem, Devin, Marina, Olivia, Thor and Xandria were able to raise the funds necessary to make the trip from Seldovia to Washington DC possible! Car washes, bake sales, Kindle raffle, carnival booth and gift basket raffle (with items from many individuals and businesses) as well as the very generous Booster Club support, all together raised the necessary funds to pay for a good part of the tuition for our students in the Close Up educational program in Washington DC, as well as the majority of tuition and travel expenses for the two chaperones that accompanied the students on the 11 day trip.
THANK YOU to our community for their continued support of academic and athletic activities for our students. Living in Seldovia, it is always a very expensive venture to be able to participate in sports and academic opportunities, just because we have to get across the bay! All year-long, we are blessed to have the financial support of so many for these activities. To experience the additional support for this major opportunity to travel almost 4,000 miles to see the history of our country and process of our government leaders up close and personal is an invaluable experience that few enjoy, and one they will always remember and one that they will be grateful for… their lifetimes!
I had the opportunity to go along, with a companion fare – and was able to offer my support as an additional chaperone/photographer for the trip. I’ve never been to Washington DC, so this was a fabulous treat for me as well, and was completely blown away being able to see the many places I’ve only heard about in school, seen in movies or on the news, or read about in books!
This was also a great opportunity for our students to meet other kids from all over the country! Some had room mates that they totally enjoyed, who bought pizza and sodas, and there were others who didn’t make a connection with their room mates. But this was a great chance to meet new people, adjust to living and experiencing a whole new relationship – away from Seldovia! A great practice run for college!
Thankfully, most of the days we were in DC, it was beautiful, sunny and warm! We walked for miles and miles and the weather cooperated (with the exception of Capitol Hill day!) At the bottom of this article, I have placed a slideshow of some of the best photos of the trip for your viewing pleasure!
Also – don’t forget to come up to the school on Wednesday, May 21, around 1:00pm to view the full sized slide show presentation of the trip by the Close Up students!
As the trip came to a close, I had the chance to get some insight from the students about the trip – and I’d like to share that with you! In our home, after an event – or even at the end of the day – we often report the “high” and the “low” – to get a reading about how each person felt about their day or experience. When working with teens it is often hard to get much out at all, and this usually gets some great responses, so, here we go!
We’ll start with the “Highs” of the trip!
“My high/favorite part of the trip was the first two days when we walked around the Mall. I also enjoyed seeing the Library of Congress, Capitol Hill and the Lincoln Memorial.” – Xandria
“The first two days with only the Seldovia kids was very productive and I really enjoyed the sights. My favorites were the Library of Congress and the Lincoln Memorial.” – Olivia
“My high point was going to Capitol Hill. I thought it was awesome to see where everything happens, and where decisions are made.” – Aidan
“My high was seeing all the statues/memorials and museums – they were magnificent!” – Marina
“What I liked most was probably the Library of Congress or the Washington monument (mainly for its immense size). Probably the high point of the trip (at least overall) was probably the day that our group got together (Wednesday) and we got to hang out together. On that Wednesday everything was less rushed, everything seemed to move nicely, not having to work with a solid schedule.” – Thor
“I liked meeting new people and my high point was seeing Arlington. I thought DC was beautiful.” – Devin
“Seeing all the memorials because they are cool and it is crazy how they sculpted them.” – Calem
“My high was being able to go to DC, and sharing this experience with the students. I also really enjoyed the night tour of DC on the top-level of the double-decker “Big” bus. My favorites? The buildings, the incredible architecture, Union Station and the cherry blossoms!” – Mr. C
“First and foremost my high point every time is witnessing the students awe. My personal high points would be sitting in on a United States Supreme Court hearing after standing in the rain for 1.5 hours was impressive, George Washington’s home of Mt. Vernon and learned of his innovative methods of farming, toured the grounds at Ft. McHenry where the War of 1812 took place and where Sir Francis Scott Key was inspired to write what would become our national anthem. What I like about Washington DC is it is a city filled with history at every street corner, every building has something to say.” – Ms. Vivian
And what were the “Lows” of the trip?
“Waking up really early in the morning because it was 4:00am Alaska time! Also the heavy raining day.” – Calem
“Early mornings and the crowds.” – Devin
“I can’t really think of a low point, as there probably wasn’t one.” – Thor
“The planes, they were too long and tiresome to change time zones and the crowds everywhere were annoying.” – Marina
“My low point was waking up on Wednesday at 6:30am because I was so tired! I didn’t like all the crowds.” – Aidan
“My room mates were not easy to get along with.” – Olivia
“When it rained really hard on Capitol Hill day, we got super wet!” – Xandria
“My low point would have been the students didn’t get to see the rotunda of the Capitol as it was closed on our Capitol Hill Day. A disappointment as it is so amazing to witness.” – Ms. Vivian
“The low points for me were: airports, airplanes and the time change. I also didn’t like the metro smell. Oh, and $3.00 waters.” – Mr. C.
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!
“Thanks Ms. Vivian for all the work you put into this!” – Marina
“To Vivian, for all her effort at keeping this a tradition – a priceless opportunity for students to participate in and experience.” – Mr. C.
“Many thanks to all those who supported our fundraising efforts. Appreciation and thanks to the students who had the courage and curiosity to work hard to attend Close Up. A big thank you to Paul Chissus, as our male chaperone who is always good-natured and as inquisitive as I am about the architecture in DC and to Jenny Chissus for being a great support and help as our personal photographer. A duty I didn’t have to do this time!” – Ms. Vivian
“To Ms.Vivian and all who helped raise money, and thanks to Mr. C.” - Xandria
“To Ms Vivian for making the trip happen. To our community for making it possible for us to go.” – Olivia
“I would like to thank Ms. Vivian for organizing everything. I would also like to thank the community for helping us fundraise.” - Aidan
“I’d like to thank the community for helping us fundraise, as I know the community is already heavily taxed. I’d also like to thank Ms. Vivian for all the years she has assisted in the fundraising and chaperoning trips.” – Thor
“Thanks to the guides in DC because I learned a lot, and of course, the community’s financial support.” – Devin
“Thanks to everyone who helped us fundraise and bought our raffle tickets.” – Calem
The trip was phenomenal, and even though we had 7 days in DC, there was so much more we could have seen! The beauty of this trip for the students was the exposure to all of it! Even though it may have seemed overwhelming – the amount of information and history being “consumed”, the massive amount of walking we were doing each day – from this point forward, when they see the rotunda of Capitol Hill in the background, or hear about what is happening on the Senate floor – they will have a whole new sense of understanding! This experience is priceless. The grandeur of the monuments, buildings and art collections, as well as the historic significance of the memorials, museums and layout of DC is now something they can honestly relate to. This has been an amazing gift! Thank you to the community/family of Seldovia who believe in and are willing to financially support an incredible educational experience for our students!