By Alex Johnson ’23
During winterim, a group of FGS students elected to join the Washington DC winterim trip. Led by Mr. McMann and Ms. Petrillo, the class initially started the course by watching Peter Sagal’s, four-part documentary Constitution U.S.A.. The class would analyze the documentary with a lively discussion and learn about the US government, its history, and political issues affecting the country today.
Eventually, the day came, and the class set out for a very long travel day from Washington, CT, to Washington, DC. The train took 6 hours, and the class was exhausted upon arrival in DC that evening. The DC winterim was partnered with the Close Up Foundation, a nonprofit nonpartisan organization that offers programming to educate students on Civic affairs and government. In addition to the FGS crew, another group from Mexico also participated in the program.
The following week was filled with thoughtful discussion and sightseeing. Each day concluded with workshops where the group was split up into small workshops where the day was debriefed, and discussions and debates were held. The program included a live debate between Conservative and Liberal analysts on day one just as the class had arrived from the train station. The next day on December 5th, the winterim group visited various memorials around DC, such as the FDR, Jefferson, MLK, and Marine Memorials. Each stop included an informative discussion on the history surrounding each memorial. The day concluded with workshops about defining our own political values and creating policies surrounding the environment or homelessness. The next day on the 6th, had a similar schedule The group visited various memorials, for example, the Korean war, Vietnam War, WWII, Airforce, and Lincoln memorials, followed by an opportunity to visit the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall. The day wrapped up with students participating in a mock congress. On the 7th, the Capitol was visited, which was the highlight of everyone’s week. The winterim class had the opportunity to meet with staffers working for Richard Blumenthal, the senator from Connecticut, and staffers working for Jahana Hayes, the representative from the Frederick Gunn School’s district. The day was wrapped up with a viewing of A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theatre. On the final day, the group visited the White House and Arlington National Cemetery. Finally, the day concluded with a farewell banquet and a dance.
The winterim trip returned to FGS the next day and began to write policy papers on a variety of topics ranging from gun control, energy, public safety etc. Overall, the students found the trip to be fun, informative, and valuable, and would recommend the trip to students next year during winterim.