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Bonners Ferry High School group gets first-class tour
of Washington, D.C.
March 16, 2018
Eight Bonners Ferry High School students had the opportunity of a lifetime when they traveled to Washington, D.C. March 4 - 9 on an in-depth tour of our national capitol. Gina Brown and Tyler Warner, teachers at Bonners Ferry High School, accompanied the students on the trip.

The students who made the trip were: Abigail Gorton, Brandon Beckle, Michael Cardinal, Michaela Worley, Bailey Jenkins, Katie Onstott, Gracie Jones, and Reece Bell.

The students met other high schoolers from across the country with a group called CloseUp in a week-long program designed to educate students on civic participation and topics in American history and government. CloseUp, established in 1977, is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that has been providing students with opportunities to explore Washington, D.C. through in-depth workshops and experiences.

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Highlights of the trip included discussions and analysis of the Vietnam Memorial, Washington Monument, Martin Luther King Memorial, Arlington Cemetery, the White House, and others. They were also able to visit a handful of museums, including the United States Holocaust Memorial and Museum where they were able to meet and visit with Marty Weiss, an 89-year old survivor of both the Auschwitz and Mauthausen concentration camps.

"I learned a lot," said Michael Cardinal, one of the students who went on the trip. "I went on the trip last year, but there is always much more to see. It was great seeing the gears of Congress at work and seeing the patriotism the city embodies."

The banner moment of the trip was a day spent on Capitol Hill meeting with Idaho representatives and their staff. The Bonners Ferry students were able to visit for half an hour with Representative and Idaho gubernatorial candidate Raúl Labrador and ask him questions about his perspectives on national issues as well as questions about his current campaign. Senator Mike Crapo’s staff also hosted the group and at Senator Risch’s office they were greeted by BFHS graduate Ayla Neumeyer who talked to them about her duties working for the senator. The day also included a tour of the U.S. Capitol building, a trip to the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, and lunch in the Senate cafeteria.

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Aside from the official visits and events arranged by CloseUp, the students and their teachers found time to work in additional events and sightseeing. A special visit was arranged to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial and Museum. "That trip was actually one that Mrs. Brown and I did with the kids on our own. The program ended officially on Thursday, but we believed in the importance of that particular museum and really wanted the kids to see it. We actually gave them an option because our flight schedule on Friday only allowed for one museum. The kids really wanted to see the USHMM, which we were glad for. We also had a brief window at the end of the day for the Smithsonian Museum of Native American History."

The students would like to extend their thanks to Idaho Forest Group, which made a significant donation that went to every student to help them afford the costs of the trip. Students also worked to help earn money they would need. "Several of the kids took turns running concessions this fall and winter," said Tyler Warner, one of the teachers who accompanied the student group to Washington. "We worked a lot of volleyball games, wrestling tournaments, and basketball games to raise funds through the school."

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