Alcona students work to raise funds for Washington DC trip

Courtesy Photo Ten Alcona High School students are going to Washington, D.C., in June for the Close Up Program. The students are going to local groups and asking for help to help raise money for their trip.

LINCOLN — Ten Alcona High School students are raising money to travel to Washington the first week of June for the Close Up Program.

The Close Up Program offers an educational opportunity in the nation’s capital where students sit in on debates, meet other students attending, and see the different sites and monuments.

“It’s a program where the students go and do an extensive study on how the government runs and what is the capital all about,” teacher Roxanne Hanner said. “It’s an extensive 14-hour day for the students when they get there.”

The trip is June 3-8 and students will tour the nation’s capital, see different sites, and sit in on committee meetings and congressional votes.

“They also get to sit in during the debates,” paraprofessional Shelly Hoffmeyer said. “It’s the real deal.”

Attending the program is not cheap for the students because it costs $1,800 per student.

“Part of the experience is putting yourself out there and convincing people to support you. It’s part of the learning process,” Hanner said. “The kids have to earn half the money on their own individually and then the other half is done through group fundraising.”

Various groups have donated to help the students — the Lincoln Lions, Barton City Eagles, Knights of Columbus, American Legion, and the Harrisville Empty Nesters.

“We have an incredibly talented group of kids and they’ve been reaching out to the community,” Hoffmeyer said. “They’re going out to the community organizations, asking for support, whatever they can get to raise money.”

The students have been doing bake sales at basketball games, raising between $200 and $300 each time. They also are doing shootouts at halftimes to help raise money.

“The turnout from the community has been incredible,” Hoffmeyer said. “They’re stepping up and really helping us out. I think just this week alone we have gotten a nice chunk of money.”

Senior Alex Stephenson said donating to the students is helping the students invest in their future. He said they are all looking forward to visiting Washington.

“The groups that we received donations from have said that is what their group is set up to help out the kids in the community,” he said. “People have been more than happy to donate and help us.”

Stephenson said he is looking forward to the debate where the students will do a fake debate between one another. He’s going on the trip to learn about real-life politics and what goes on in the capital.

“I’m looking into studying political science when I go to college so this trip will be beneficial for me,” he said.

Senior Cody Schram said he is excited to go to Washington to see how the government works and learn more about the country’s history. He is looking forward to seeing Arlington National Cemetery.

“I want to explore more about our government because I didn’t really get into it until we took our political science class for college and it really taught us that our opinions matter and we should get more involved in our government system,” senior Sarah Sweet said.

Junior Kiersten Tompkins said it would be a good opportunity to explore what Washington is like. Senior Melayne Odell said going to Washington is going to be a trip of a lifetime and she is looking forward to seeing all the monuments.

“I’ve never been into politics much, but once we get there and see it firsthand from what we learned in the classroom, it’s going to be a great experience,” Odell said. “I’m excited about the whole trip.”

Odell said the groups they have talked to have been super generous to them.

“They’re super excited to see us go and all of them want us to come back and share everything that we’ve learned,” she said.

Hanner said the students will see a play at Ford’s Theatre and go to Arlington National Cemetery. She said a tour of the Capitol Building also will take place.

“Overall, it’s a good experience for these kids and it gets them out of Northeast Michigan,” Hanner said.

Other students going on the trip are juniors Ethan Fick-Somers, Hailey Gordy, and Brianna Fogle and seniors Taylor Livingston and Luke Loyer. Hanner and Hoffmeyer will be with the students along with a Close Up representative.

“It’s an amazing experience for these students to be able to go,” Hoffmeyer said. “When we found out the only other school going is Traverse City, that’s huge.”

On March 3, the students are hosting a bowling fundraiser at Village Lanes in Harrisville to help the students attend the Close Up Program. Kids ages 12 and under can go from 1-3 p.m. for $10. Teens and adults can go from 3-6 p.m. for $15. The price includes bowling, hot dog, chips, drink, and shoes. There will also be a 50/50 drawing and a Chinese raffle.

For more information or to help the students, contact Hanner or Hoffmeyer at Alcona High School at 736-8534.

Julie Goldberg can be reached via email at jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688.