Nearly 40 members of the Richmond Hill High School Young Republicans spent the President’s Day holiday in the nation’s capital.
The group got to spend four days in Washington, D.C., where they had a private tour of the speaker of the house’s balcony, toured the Capitol with interns from U.S. Rpe. Jack Kingston’s office and toured the White House.
The group also got to see several Smithsonian museums, including Air and Space, American History and Natural History, the national archives, the Arlington National Cemetery, Mount Vernon and the National Cathedral.
There also were “several snowball fights,” said teacher Russ Carpenter, who led the visit. “We moved our group around on the Metro with only one mishap. Going to the White House, a few students plus a chaperone couldn’t get off the train in time.”
But after “running several blocks,” the group was able to meet up at the first checkpoint on the White House grounds.
“It was an excellent rip,” Carpenter said. “From the first day touring the Capitol, the White House tour, Arlington National Cemetery, to Mount Vernon, the students were engaged and inquisitive.”
Students gave the trip high marks. Wes Rahn said he learned “the past is really prologue.”
Students Abby Eichhorn and Bobbi Mehlhorn called it a great opportunity for young Republicans to bond. Student Destiny Smithberger called it “a mind-blowing experience.”
“Having the weight of all the history here in Washington wash over me as I saw all the monuments and memorials was something I will never forget,” said Smithberger, who is in her final year with the RHHS Young Republicans.
That was also the case with Montana Dean, who called the trip a great way to wrap up her time in the club.
“This was an excellent way to end my years with the Richmond Hill Young Republicans,” Dean said. “Even though this is my third time to D.C., I still got to experience new things. From touring the White House to seeing snow for the first time, I have made memories that I will cherish forever and never forget.”
Student Garrett Garner said Americans tend to “take for granted our freedom and never fully realize what our ancestors went through to obtain it. On this trip to D.C. we saw first hand what they really had to do and I feel almost undeserving to live here.”
Garner said he’d like to go back to Washington to see more.
Student Meghan Krull said she felt it a privilege to visit Ford’s Theatre and was impressed by security, but it was tough not to be moved by the theater’s dark history.
“Even though going to Ford’s Theatre is an exciting trip, it is still a depressing place to visit knowing that President Lincoln has fallen there,” she said.
Student Ashlyn Fesperman said her favorite part of the trip “were the times that brought the group closer together.”
“Whether it was through pegging each other with snowballs or having late night deep conversations with new friends, this trip has given everyone the opportunity to make memories and friends that we will cherish forever,” she said.
Student Haley Smith said her most memorable moment was visiting the White House.
“Seeing the many different rooms and standing where our former presidents stood was an amazing feeling,” she said. “We learned a lot about the history of D.C. and our presidents, but we also were able to learn about each other and share laughs while making memories.”
Student Blaine Chapman said it was nice to visit his future home “at 1600 Pennslyvania Avenue, N.W.”
“It’s quite a gorgeous estate and I am thoroughly excited to live there one day.”
That could happen, said Carpenter, who teaches government and also serves on the Richmond Hill City Council.
“Many people remarked about what an excellent group we had,” he said. “I can see some of these kids in the Capitol or maybe even the White House one day.”