Sophomore Class Takes on DC


Lainey Liberto '25

The backside of the White House.


Our Monday started off bright and early at school. Everyone was to be at school by 4:00 a.m., and before everyone got on the bus, the infamous policy papers were turned in in order to get on the bus. For some, the day started off quite warm as one of the bus’s air conditioners was not working properly, so the hour-long drive to Dallas Love Field Airport was very warm. We got to the airport at around 5:30 or so, and everyone checked their bags, some more heavy than others. Everyone got through security quite easily, and we got on the plane quickly. The flight was pretty quick and on time, thankfully. We landed in D.C. at about 11:30 a.m., and everyone got our bags and loaded the bus. We got to the hotel, the Crystal City Marriott, right outside D.C., and met the Close Up leaders for the week. We also got our room assignments. We ate some lunch, which was mediocre,, and quickly changed and got on our way to see the first stops of the week. We went to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial first, then to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. All the memorials were very pretty and fun to look at. After the MLK memorial, lots of students stopped for ice cream at one of the many ice cream trucks in D.C. After the memorials, we went to the White House for a little bit. We saw the infamous protester tent outside, which is the only protest allowed on the White House property. Someone has to be at the tent for all 24 hours of the day every day of the week, in order for them to stay at that location, where they’ve been since 1987. After the White House, we went to dinner at an Italian restaurant called Carmines. After dinner, we loaded the buses and headed back to the hotel. For about an hour when we got back to the hotel, we had two people, a Conservative and a Liberal, come and discuss domestic issues from each of their perspectives. After that, we went back to our rooms and had our room check at 10, then went to bed.  

The sophomore class visiting the White House on Monday afternoon. (Sara Teegarden )


Our daily briefing each day set the tone for each day of our D.C. trip and starting at 8:45 a.m., we knew as a class this was going to be a really busy day. Most of us were still in a fog from the 3:30 a.m. wake-up the day before. Tuesday the tour started at the Arlington National Cemetery where we witnessed the changing of the guards, saw the eternal flame, as well as just walked through the cemetery.  After leaving the cemetery, we ate lunch at a mall food court and were able to fit some shopping in as well. After lunch we headed to the Museum of African American History and Culture where we learned about the more recent as well the past tense culture and history of African Americans. We then took a short walk over to the Museum of Natural History, where we got to see all different kinds of exhibits having to do with animals and nature. We then went back to the hotel where we changed into our boat attire. Then about an hour later we headed back to the bus and made our way to a dock on the Potomac where the boat was located.

Audra Thomas ’25, Madeline Mehall ’25, Lainey Liberto ’25, and Sloan Howard ’25 getting ready to load the boat cruise. (Sara Teegarden )


On Wednesday, we started off the day with an issue in a Congress workshop.  Workshop one and two had an issue over raising the minimum wage. Workshop one was in favor of the issue and workshop two was opposed. Workshop three and four had an issue over background checks to be able to get guns. Workshop three was also in favor of this issue and workshop four was against. After they debated, the room opened up for individual beliefs. After the mock congress, we went to the Air and Space Museum. There were different rooms that we went in to see the evolution of planes and aerospace mechanics. After the museum we had lunch at the L’Enfant Plaza. The teachers gave us 20 dollars to spend on any food option we wanted. The options included Panda Express, Subway, Auntie Anne’s, DC Dogs & Fries, and some noodle places. After lunch we went to the WWII, Civil War, Korean, and Vietnam war memorials. We got to see the different representations the memorials showed for the people who died. After visiting and looking around at the memorials we went to Yard House. It wasn’t everyone’s favorite place, but we got to socialize and witness the lights go out. Once everyone ate, we went back to the hotel to talk to alumni from Fort Worth Country Day. Colin Douglas’‘06, US history teacher, asked the alumni’s different questions about their experience in D.C., their favorite projects, and what their current occupation is. Once the panel was over, Sara Teegarden, US history teacher, reprimanded us about our behavior that day. And then right after it was time for room check. 

One of the many groups at the Air and Space Museum. (Sara Teegarden)


Thursday of the trip was the long-awaited Capitol Hill day.  We woke up and left at 9:00 a.m. and got to the Hill around 9:30 a.m. and went straight to take a class picture with the Capitol in the background.  After the picture, we went to the steps in front of the Capitol to talk to Fort Worth Congresswoman Kay Granger’s staff. After that, we waited for a while to talk to Senator Ted Cruz. Senator Cruz was taking quite a while, so many ventured off into the park where Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was participating in a rally with the AFL-CIO about increasing the minimum wage. We also spotted Senator Tim Scott who represents South Carolina, and has declared a run for the presidency. We eventually gave up on waiting for Senator Cruz because of our Capitol tour. Once we got to our Capitol tour, we saw Senator Cruz running over to come to talk to us. After talking to him and asking him questions, we moved on to the Capitol tour. It was such a huge building and the architecture was so intricate. After that, we went and had a quick lunch in the Capitol building’s cafeteria. After our quick lunch, bus 1 headed to the Embassy of Uruguay, and bus 2 went to the Embassy of Saudi Arabia. I went to the Saudi Arabian embassy, which was quite a different experience than the Uruguayan embassy. Saudi Arabia shared a 13-minute video about their country and then showed us the typical clothing and let us have a Q&A about their country. I thought it was interesting to hear about their culture, but bothersome to hear how antiquated their beliefs on women’s rights are. Meanwhile, in the Uruguayan Embassy, they watched a 3 minute video on their culture, participated in a Q&A about the culture, then drank sodas and ate cookies. After the Embassy trips, we headed to Chinatown for dinner. We were given several options to choose from for dinner, and I chose Lamen, a ramen restaurant. Once we got to the restaurant we ordered and ate some of the best food I had all trip. Once we finished dinner, we got back onto the buses and went to war memorials. We first went to the Einstein Statue, then went onto the Iwo Jima memorial. Lastly, we went to the 9/11 memorial, which stuck with me the most. The memorial is designed and thought out so well. There are 184 benches, representing the 184 lives lost in the plane, and in the Pentagon. Benches facing outwards represent the people who died in the plane, and the benches facing inwards represent the people who died working in the Pentagon. Overall, Thursday was my favorite day of the whole trip. 

The tenth graders waiting to go into the Capitol. (Sara Teegarden)


Friday was our very last day of the D.C. trip. We had to wake up at 7:30 a.m. and be downstairs by 8:00 a.m. We had breakfast in the hotel and listened to announcements for the day. At 8:45 a.m. our groups started to work on our student presentations. My group did Texas as our theme and we made our slideshow based around symbols and architecture around D.C. Another group did DC in color which consisted of pictures of the community in color. We went in front of all of the other groups and presented our slideshows for our Close Up leaders to grade and give awards. We then got onto the bus and went to eat lunch at DuPont Circle. There were certain places we could go and certain Close Up leaders that went with us. At 1:45 p.m. the bus transferred us to the American History Museum. My favorite thing in the American History Museum was the original Star Spangled Banner at the front of the museum. After the museum the bus took us straight to the airport where we checked our bags and went through security. The plane took off at 6:30 p.m. in D.C. and we landed at 8:50 p.m. in Fort Worth. Lastly, the bus brought us back to Country Day where our parents picked us up and that was the end of our trip. 

Janie Lee ’25, Sophie Tam ’25, Alexis Del Pozzo ’25, Elizabeth Dike ’25, and Andrew Thomas sitting in the DuPont Circle after lunch. (Sara Teegarden)