Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Federal Program Lets Students Visit Washington `Close-Up'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Federal Program Lets Students Visit Washington `Close-Up'

Article excerpt

Close-Up, a federal program that sponsors student tours of Washington, D.C., is popular at Hazelwood West High School - so popular that the school usually has the largest contingent attending from Missouri.

Students at Hazelwood West sell candy and pizza to be able to go on the trip. They even will give up their Friday and Saturday nights for more than a month - to take inventory at a department store to help others be part of the program.

Two years ago when President Bill Clinton was inaugurated, the Hazelwood West Close-Up group was one of the largest in the nation.

"The best thing about Close-Up is the people and the staff," says senior Shannon Crum. "Everyone's a big friend. It's awesome."

Hazelwood West has taken part in Close-Up since the program began about 20 years ago, says co-sponsor Mary Gieselmann. The school's participation was started by another co-sponsor, Harry McCowan.

Close-Up is financed by Congress and companies such as Emerson Electric, Gieselmann says. It features a five-day tour of our nation's capital. Students visit the monuments and meet members of Congress.

"Everything that was in Washington - just name it, and we went there," says senior Angie Rivera.

While Congress and corporations pay for most of the program, students must pay for their own food and lodging. That's where the pizza and candy sales are involved.

Gieselmann says that at Hazelwood West, Close-Up fund-raising is limited to November, when no other group is allowed to sell. Each student needs $1,065 for expenses, and some students work more than a year to raise the money. Students enlist the help of friends and relatives; and groups such as Parents At West and the Hazelwood National Education Association also help or make donations.

Close-Up meetings are once a month, primarily to discuss fund-raising strategies or trip information, the sponsor says. Members of the group periodically take inventory at Famous-Barr stores, and the company pays Close-Up what the students would have earned. Gieselmann says the money is used to help students who come up a bit short in their fund-raising.

The best advertising for the program comes from classmates who have taken part, students say. …

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