Twenty-one Killdeer High School juniors and seniors got a first-hand view of democracy in action with a week-long trip in April in Washington, D.C., as part of the Close Up Foundation High School Program.
By Bryan Gallegos
For the DC Herald
The program, according to its web site, is designed to transform the lives of students and their teachers, helping set them on the path to a lifetime of active citizenship. Using the nation’s capital as a living classroom, they had the opportunity to interact with the people, processes, and places that make this federal city so unique.
The Killdeer contingent included seniors, Hayes LeMieux, Hunter Bice, Zeb Doe, Dan Larsen, Ryan Karey, Michael Theesen, Dillion Calkins, Abbie Zastoupil, Codi Schaper, and Brianna Suits.
The juniors were: Cate Fredericks, Gabi Flaget, Kiara Mason, Morgan Marquardt, Katelin Chinn, Bheri Hallam, Maleah Schmeling, Rope Smith, Anthony Holding Eagle, Vance Strommen and Colby Dukart. They were joined by advisors Andy Murphy and Janis Harris.
Killdeer was one of three North Dakota schools participating in the program that ran from April 21-26. More than 150 students from North Dakota, Illinois, Ohio, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Montana, Washington and Alaska participated.
The students were split into six workshops, where they talk about different aspects of democracy. They talked of current events, did mock debates and Congress sessions.
“They kids learned a lot more about government and how government works,” said Murphy. “It was kind of a culture shock.”
After working in their groups for several days, each group gave a presentation for the other groups and advisors during a banquet. Each group selected a spokesperson to give a speech. Theesen gave a speech for his group.
During the week, the Killdeer kids met with North Dakota lawmakers, Sens. John Hoeven, R, and Heidi Heitkamp, D, and Rep. Kevin Kramer, R.
“It was a good experience meeting them,” Murphy said.
Since its inception in 1971, more than 800,000 participants have seen the federal government and the Nation’s Capital in action on a Close Up program.
According to its web site, in post-program surveys of participants from the past year:
• 99 percent of participating teachers said they would recommend the Close Up programs to their colleagues;
• 94 percent of students said that Close Up helped them better understand current political issues;
• 97 percent said it helped them understand that other citizens may hold differing opinions and those issues;
• 4 out of 5 participating students report that after their Close Up program, they are more likely to pay attention to the news; to communicate their ideas to others more effectively; and they feel more knowledgeable about how to promote their political interests and beliefs to others.