Milton High School students to tour Washington, D.C.

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Jake Magee
March 20, 2015

MILTON—For Milton High School senior Rachel Klusmeyer, the upcoming trip to Washington, D.C., could be life changing.

She, five staff members and 34 fellow AP Government seniors leave for the nation's capital Tuesday evening as part of the school's Discovering Democracy program, a yearlong research course that requires each student to research topics. The students will spend days conducting interviews with the country's leaders to learn more about their individual topics.

“I know that I will learn a lot from this trip and come back with a new sense of self and a new perspective,” Klusmeyer said.

Social studies teacher Val Crofts, who initiated the program five years ago, said students spend the week acting and feeling like professionals, which is a great transition into the college lifestyle.

“The legislators know that my kids are advanced and intelligent in their topics,” he said.

Klusmeyer will focus on equality for women in the workforce, a subject she feels strongly about.

She's discovered there is a 7 percent gender pay gap unrelated to family situations or qualifications. She's researched ways women are discriminated against based on physical appearance and negative stereotypes, Klusmeyer said.

“For all of the students, it is our first business trip as adults,” Klusmeyer said. “We're completely responsible for ourselves, and it's very empowering knowing that you're going to be walking the streets of one of the most historical cities in our nation and talking to powerful leaders.”

Some of the people she'll meet include Rep. Paul Ryan, Rep. Mark Pocan, Sen. Ron Johnson, Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Speaker of the House John Boehner.

Klusmeyer and her fellow students will have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the city, too. The seniors will visit Mount Vernon, do a night tour of the city's most famous monuments, visit Gettysburg and the Arlington National Cemetery, go to Smithsonian museums, see a play at Ford's Theatre and visit the National Archives and Records Administration.

After they return Sunday, March 29, students will use what they learned from their D.C. interviews to write final research papers. The works will be presented in May at the school's annual research fair, Klusmeyer said.

Crofts was inspired to start the Milton program after taking a trip to Washington, D.C., as a Parker High School student.

“The coolest thing is when students come back and say it's their greatest experience they had in high school,” he said.


Milton High School students studying in Washington, D.C., and their topics are:

-- Clayton Adamson: Judicial review and its effect on the federal balance of power

-- Jonah Brandt: Standardized testing and the No Child Left Behind policy

-- Logan Cassidy: U.S. and Russian relations (political and military)

-- Danielle Dahl: Reproductive genetics

-- Steven Devine: Corporate media and their influence on people's votes

-- Cally Dittman: FDA and food additives

-- Savannah Dixon: Equality for women in the workplace

-- Natalie Gunnink: GMO labeling laws

-- Bobby Hannah: GMOs and effects on crops

-- Tyler Hansing: U.S. involvement in Syria

-- Joe Hipsky: Cyber security

-- Mark King: Voter ID laws

-- Rachel Klusmeyer: Equality for women in the workplace

-- Tanner Kress: Legalizing marijuana

-- Gavin Kuester: GMO labeling

-- Austin Lepper: The abortion debate

-- John McCarthy: Domestic versus foreign oil

-- Logan McHone: Dark money and its effects on politics

-- Meg Mirka: The re-legalization of marijuana

-- Konner Moisson: Income tax reform and implementation of a flat tax

-- Hunter Nelson: U.S. drug imports and its effects on our society

-- Kaden Ruiz: Air pollution regulations

-- Auston Rupnow: Internet security

-- Matt Silveus: Minority family structure/culture and its correlation with affirmative action

-- Eli Smithson: Autonomous vehicles

-- Shawna Stowers: Illegal immigration and its effect on the economy

-- Allie Sukus: Government services for veterans

-- Aaron Talabec: Portrayal of Islam in the U.S.

-- Courtney Wagner: Social media and its impact on campaigns

-- Dion Weberpal: Costs/benefits of prohibition of marijuana

-- Ted Welch: Gun control rights

-- Tyler Westrick: Bipartisanship

-- Josh Widner: Targeted drone strikes

-- Lindsey Williams: Government policies in special education

-- Jeremy Woodcock: Climate change and U.S. policy

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