Since 1975, Granada High School has taken students on an out-of-class experience they will never forget. Each year, juniors and seniors at the school have an opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., to participate in the Close Up Washington Program.

This year, grant funding from the Rotarian Foundation of Livermore enabled more students from Granada to participate. The Rotarian Foundation of Livermore recognized the importance of ensuring the next generation will be informed and engaged citizens, and wants to support local students interested in having this hands-on education experience.

Granada students participating in a February 2019 Close Up program had this to say about the trip:

- “I learned more about concepts like liberty and justice through our discussions, and I now understand the origin of our country better. This trip made me appreciate how complicated and extensive our government truly is.”

- “My favorite part of my Close Up trip was making a lot of new friends from around the nation. It is important that students around the country get together so that they can share views and ideas. I was able to learn what life is like in other parts of the country. I can’t stop telling my friends how absolutely amazing this trip was, and how much I learned!”

- “I was able to learn the specifics of a how a bill becomes a law from my Close Up instructor. Overall the trip helped broaden my views, and I plan to stay involved and continue talking about issues with my friends and family.”

- “One of my favorite parts of the trip to DC was exploring the historic monuments. Our program instructor taught us many things about the history of the monuments and memorials, as well as why they were there. Before this trip I was interested in various Supreme Court decisions, and appointments made by Congress. We were able to see these places in person, and gain information from people working there. I feel inspired to be a consistent voter once I turn 18, and be educated about who is running and what they believe.”

- Some of the words students used to describe their Close Up experience: life-changing, profound, empowering, enlightening, exciting, humbling, and memorable.

Don McCombs was one of two teachers who chaperoned this year’s group to DC. Reflecting on his experience as an educator, he noted: “This year, I enjoyed getting to explore Fredericksburg and Annapolis with Close Up staff. Learning how these sites played a role in the formation of our nation was fascinating. I was shocked to learn that only 23% of young adults are proficient in knowledge of our government. Close Up’s program helps our students counter this trend, and inspires me as a teacher to take what we learn in DC home to Livermore. This experience is a fantastic opportunity to see our government in action at a level the average tourist will never see.”

Founded in 1971, Close Up is a non-profit, non-partisan organization whose mission is to inform, inspire, and empower young people to understand and accept their role as a citizen in a democracy. While on Close Up’s week-long program, Granada students joined peers from Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Missouri, Puerto Rico, Texas, and Washington for daily debates, discussions, and activities focusing on current issues and the governing process. They also had a chance to meet their elected officials as part of a comprehensive Capitol Hill series.