Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

By Mark Dykes
Assistant Editor 

Students return from Close-up week in Washington


Courtesy photo

Hot Springs County High School seniors and Close-Up students Korey Smith, left, and Caleb DeCroo met with U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., in his Washington D.C. office

Last week, Hot Spring County High School seniors and Close-Up students Korey Smith and Caleb DeCroo travelled to Washington D.C. On their weeklong stay at the capitol, they spent some time with Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso.

DeCroo said the experience was really cool, and he encourages other people to take the opportunity. He learned a lot about the symbolism of various monuments and why they were erected. Smith felt the trip was really influential for high school students, as they were able to learn about the country and the country's foundation. She further added it was a good experience meeting with the senators. The Wyoming students were privileged to tour the capital with interns from Barrasso's office. Unfortunately, the two were not afforded much time to visit with the senators regarding the issues, but briefly touched on the topic of climate change with Barrasso.

Among their stops were memorials to World War II, the Vietnam War and the Korean War, as well as to figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Presidents Roosevelt and Lincoln. They also toured the Smithsonian, and the recently opened African-American Smithsonian.

Other stops included buildings of various representatives, the Capitol Building, and the Library of Congress. As they weren't on the tour all the time, they took some free time to visit the National Archives, the Holocaust Museum, Ford's Theater and the National Portrait Gallery.

Smith really enjoyed going to Williamsburg, noting it was like going back to colonial times, with people dressed in period attire and explaining their roles in the community. "I thought that was pretty cool." She also liked the National Archives, as it showed her more about the formation of our country.

The students were also encouraged to take in sights they might not otherwise, and DeCroo said he really enjoyed attending a production of "Shear Madness."

As for how they were able to go on the trip, the students explained Close-Up Representative Brenna Abel puts out information about the trip, and students can then sign up for it and begin fundraising. Smith said she has been in the program since freshman year, while DeCroo began his sophomore year. Smith noted among the fundraising activities selling pop, cookies, candy, candles, butter braids. "It was little things throughout the year." But, DeCroo added, it was not done in a single year, but over two or three.

Smith said students don't have to be seniors to go, but she felt she would get more out of it. She pointed out at the school she didn't really involve herself in government, so she wanted to put herself out there and try new things. Coming back from the D.C. experience, she wants to be more involved in the community and in government.

DeCroo's interested was sparked due to the opportunity to tour D.C., and learn about the monuments and the capital. "I went there thinking it was just a tour," he said, adding that he broadened his knowledge. He was glad they got to tour various places, but also that there was much more to it.


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