Old News Archive

Saving Penquis Close Up

June 13, 2010 - TRC - By Russell Carey, Close Up Coordinator

To Close Up Alumni, their families and friends of the Close Up Program at PVHS:

For 28 consecutive years Penquis Valley High School has participated in the Close Up government studies program. During this time span nearly 500 students have traveled to Washington, D.C., to study our nation’s capital and the federal government “close up.”

While on the Close Up program, our students role play being the President, Senators, Representatives, advisers, and lobbyists. They learn how the government makes decisions which affect Americans and people around the world. Our students meet and speak with Maine’s Congressional delegation and people who work in various governmental departments and agencies.

Our students use Washington’s monuments, memorials, and museums as classrooms. The Great Depression takes on new meanings when walking through the FDR memorial. World War II seems even more important when standing in the middle of the World War II memorial. The Civil Rights movement comes to life when climbing the steps at the Lincoln Memorial. The Vietnam War becomes very personal when students see their reflections among the names carved on that black granite wall.

Our students learn the importance of becoming active citizens. They are shown how they can apply what they learn during their week of study to their hometowns. They meet students from all over the country and learn about life in other parts of the United States.

This Close Up experience is unique and special. Nearly all of the students who have gone on the program have asked if they could go again. Many students say it is the most amazing time they had in high school. It’s a fantastic return for a relatively small investment.

This past year I asked the MSAD #41 school board to add Close Up to the list of extracurricular activities. I made this request for two reasons. I wanted to insure the Close Up tradition continued for future Penquis Valley students after I retired. My second reason was financial. For the past several years I have had to pay my way to take the kids on the trip. This happened because we were not taking the minimum number of students. All of the Close Up teachers I have met over the years receive compensation for their efforts from their schools and I felt it was time for MSAD #41 to make a small investment for me and future Close Up coordinators.

Sadly, without any discussion about the merits of the Close Up program, the school board dismissed my request to add Close Up to the extracurricular schedule B pay scale. As a result of this decision I will no longer offer Close Up as an activity for Penquis Valley students.

If the Penquis Close Up tradition is to continue, Close Up alumni and the parents of alumni need to contact their school board members and tell them this program is worth saving.

Russ Carey, Close Up Coordinator

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.