By Jamie Hunt

June 11-15, 16 Steve Garvey Junior High School students and three chaperones will go to Washington, D.C. on the Close Up Capital Experience program.

They will tour the nation's capital, Jamestown, Va. and Colonial Williamsburg. The students will learn about U.S. history first hand. The program is endorsed by the National Council for Social Studies, and the National Middle School Association as an experience of &#8220extreme merit.”

The Close Up group held a Read-a-thon from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 8. The kids asked family and friends to donate money for every minute that they read. Robert Forbes, director of the program, said that the students have about $300-$400 each. Most of the students are doing their own fund-raising.

On the trip, students will be in workshops with college students most of the day, where they'll discuss American history, as well as the roles of the three branches of government. They'll visit Congress, the Supreme Court, and the White House.

&#8220The students will get to see the legislative process in action,” Forbes said.

Forbes has taken other students from Tulare County on the trip , but this is the first trip for Lindsay students. He hopes that the trip will become a long tradition, and has already started advertising for next year, so students can start saving.

&#8220We have students from a small rural town of 10,000-12,000 visiting the epicenter of the world's most powerful and influential country. At the same time the students will learn that our institutions are founded on the fundamental premise of democracy, and representative government,” Forbes said.

&#8220When our students see on TV certain spokespersons speak about world affairs, they will have a personal connection with our government and those that represent us, because they've been there,” he continued. &#8220The students will actually be in the rooms where laws are being made or press conferences are being given. My hope is that they have a sense of participation in our communities of the future,” he said. &#8220It's great when a student can say, ‘Oh, I've been there!'”

Many of the Lindsay students have never been on an airplane, and Forbes said that some would experience subways, trains, and taxis for the first time.

&#8220I'm looking forward to the trip. It's a once in a lifetime event for a kid my age,” Peter Chastian said, &#8220I particularly want to see the White House.” Chastian, a seventh grader, is a tall, reserved young man.

&#8220I've learned about Washington, D.C. from my parents and the news, and last year from my math and science teacher.

&#8220The trip is a great way for the kids to learn about U.S. history and our government first hand, without text books.” said Paul Chastian, Peter's father, and one of the chaperones. &#8220I like learning about America, and I'm really interested in history,” Josh Hurtado said, &#8220We are learning about slavery and the Civil War.”

While traveling the students will room in pairs and will stay with other students from U.S. towns. &#8220Lindsay students can make new friends and share experiences and differences with students from other parts of the U.S.,” Forbes said.

&#8220The reason I want to go to D.C, is because my parents and grandmother say it's a great experience. They enjoyed it and there is lot of history to learn. The more I know about our country's government and politics, the better it is for my future,” Josh Williams, an eighth grader, said.&#8220I'm really excited.”

&#8220They seem to learn so much more when they experience history first hand, than out of a book,” Josh's mother, Edna Williams, said. &#8220I think the trip is a wonderful opportunity, very educational. I'm very excited that my son, Joshua, get's to go. I hope they continue this trip for many years.”

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