Dominican Takes on D.C.


RED, WHITE, AND BLUE-TIFULStanding in front of the Washington Monument on Feb. 13,  seniors Alexis Lang, Mackenzie LaPlace, Vctoria Cheung and Isabella Hotard learned about the significance of the Washington Monument, Korean and Vietnam Memorial, and Lincoln Memorial during their week in the Close-Up program. – photo by Claire Perez

Throughout their Dominican careers, the Class of 2018 has learned geography, American history and world history.  This year, they are learning civics, the social science of the country’s government.

To make the textbook and lessons come to life, 31 students traveled to Washington, D.C. to see the U.S. government in action. They participated in Close-Up, a program designed to give students a better understanding of the government and what they are learning about in the classroom.

“By going on this trip, students apply what they are learning in class to real life,” said social studies teacher Mr. Randy Duplantis. “My students cannot always take my teaching to the streets, but through this incredible trip they can!”

On this week-long journey in February, students got “close-up” and personal with the government through many activities such as workshops and political debates. Students split into workshops with students from all across the country.  As the week progressed, the students discussed and debated the workings of the government as well as problems in the country and world today.

The Close-Up attendees also visited some of the most famous monuments in the country. They traveled to the Lincoln, Jefferson and FDR Memorials, taking what they experienced to workshops and discussions.

“Seeing the monuments in person was indescribable,” said senior Katherine Hill. “I’ve always learned about them in history class but being face to face with these giant statues towering over you, I felt like I was walking through the pages of a history book.”

Mid-way through the trip, students participated in Capitol Hill Day during which they met their senators and representatives.  Dominican students met Louisiana Senators John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy. In their meeting with Senator Cassidy, they discussed current, controversial issues in the country, such as gun control. They also discussed simpler concerns such as whether Metairie would gain a Town Hall.

“It was refreshing to see that our senators work for us, the people,” said senior Asia Hentkowski. “They were surprised to see that teenagers were so involved in politics.”

Along with meeting their senators, the Dominican seniors sat in the House of Representatives gallery and watched Congress vote. The students watched bills concerning international human rights and the Department of Defense pass through the House with no problems. Senior Cole Pittman was in awe seeing the House work so quickly and efficiently. “I witnessed history being made and the passing of legislation, which to me is an amazing experience,” said Pittman.


SMILE AND SAY “HONEST ABE”- Smiling big with the country’s 16th president, seniors Jessica Wallesverd and Nia Smith explore the Lincoln Memorial on Feb. 13 during their time participating in the Close-Up program. Wallesverd and Smith joined thirty other Dominican seniors as they experienced the nation’s capital up close.  – photo by Claire Perez

During the program, DHS students participated in activities and even roomed with students from other cities and states.  Pairs of Dominican students roomed with students from another school. This was a way to get the participants of the program to bond and discuss the different ways of living and perspectives on politics from across the country.

“My roommates were from California,” said Kristen Larche. “They told me a lot of cool stories about their life on the West Coast and their public-school system, which I had never experienced before being from Catholic schools all my life.”

Ms. Jordan Ruppert (’11), civics teacher, watched her students go through the same program she experienced 7 years ago as a DHS senior. “I loved seeing my students change from being spectators in my class to participants in their government,” Ms. Ruppert said.

Those Dominican students attending Close Up recommend others taking the journey. “I’m not going to lie,” said Hill. “I was terrified to go on Close Up at first, but I knew I would hate myself if I didn’t go.

“Take it from someone who was texting her mom 30 minutes before boarding to pick her up: this trip is completely worth it.”

  • Claire Perez