image of students and chaperones standing on steps of U.S. Capitol Building

A group of 18 Mount St. Mary Academy students spent January 13-19 in Washington, D.C., experiencing the institutions and iconic sites that embody our nation’s past and present through the Close Up experiential learning program.

Highlights of the group’s week-long adventure in the nation’s capital included visiting the U.S. Capitol, Supreme Court Building, FBI Headquarters, Arlington National Cemetery, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, 9/11 Pentagon Memorial and Holocaust Memorial Museum. The timing of this year’s trip also provided the unique opportunity to visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on MLK Day. In addition to touring landmark buildings and famous monuments and memorials, the students were able to participate in debates and a Mock Congress, discuss current issues with participating students from other states, and meet with Congressman French Hill and Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton. They also visited the National Gallery of Art and enjoyed a Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical at The Kennedy Center.

“Close Up shows our students firsthand what they’ve learned in class and gives them the opportunity to fully experience our nation’s capital as well as consider their roles in our political system today and in the future,” MSM social studies teacher and trip chaperone Brendan Britt said. Britt, who participated in Close Up in high school, was instrumental in adding the program to Mount St. Mary Academy’s list of annual educational travel options in 2010.

“Close Up was an experience of a lifetime,” Maggie McCain '26 said. “I loved getting to meet new people, learn more about politics, and understand more about our nation’s history. I am more confident in myself and my views due to my involvement with this program. The trip also provided the opportunity to bond with other Mount girls, which was really fun!”

Macy Boswell '25 shared similar sentiments about the experience. “I loved getting to know my peers more and more throughout the week,” she said. “I learned a lot about politics and realized I need to be more involved. I also enjoyed talking with people from all around the country, and I even made a few new friends from California.”

This is the 14th year Mount St. Mary Academy has participated in Close Up. Using the nation’s capital as a “living classroom,” the experience-based program gives participants a deeper understanding of history, government institutions, current issues, and the role of citizens, and it seeks to help young people develop critical skills for tackling the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. Since 1971, it has served more than one million students and educators from schools around the country through its civic education programs and classroom resources.