Federal Way to Send Students to Washington, DC

Republished With Permission of Federal Way Mirror

Last spring, my wife and I finally got to visit our nation’s capital. I wasn’t sure how I expected to feel in D.C. because I have become so pessimistic about the direction our government is going.

I was full of profound thanksgiving for what our forefathers created, however, upon seeing the war memorials, the monuments and the classical grace and simplicity of the architecture.

It is not unusual for school children to travel to Washington, D.C. Various schools in Federal Way offer trips. Kids with families that can afford $2,000 can go and visit museums, the Capitol Building and even visit the White House in many cases. Sequoyah Middle School, for example, has such a trip planned for June 2012. There are some “Dream” scholarships available, but right now, all the kids that are signed up at Sequoyah are white.

The trouble is that kids from “underserved” families may not even apply because they feel like they would never be able to afford such a trip. A history teacher at Sequoyah said that the kids need about $4,000 more in order for five of those underserved kids to experience the pride that we felt walking around in Washington, D.C.

Imagine what it means to be a student from a family that is working hard to make ends meet — and meeting the President or the First Lady. Or imagine visiting the new Martin Luther King Memorial and Colonial Williamsburg. It is not an impossible dream, but there are certain steps that you need to take.

If you are a Sequoyah student from a family that is in need of assistance, start by writing an essay about why you want to visit D.C.

There will be interviews at Sequoyah at 3 p.m. Dec. 9. The committee conducting interviews will be looking to see how you will comport yourself. Remember, you might meet the First Lady.

Self-confidence is important. I once read a magazine article that explained how kids from high-achieving families will claim to be able to accomplish certain things even if they have little knowledge or experience in that field. But the committee is just looking for the kind of confidence that says, “I will be a positive representative for my school and Federal Way.” Be ready to tell the committee what interests you about the trip, what you want to see and what the trip will mean to you.

If Federal Way service clubs take note of the effort being made to help these kids, there may be additional help so that more than five kids can go. Funds are scarce, but this is the kind of project that can grow into a permanent benefit for students in all the schools. There will also be opportunities for the kids to participate in car washes and other fundraising.

Participation in fundraising events will help meet the requirement that each student that gets a scholarship contribute at least part of the cost. Send checks c/o Beth Parsons, 831 S. 373rd Place, Federal Way, WA 98003; make the checks out to “Sequoyah to D.C. Fund 2012.”

If I were planning the trip, we would all make a side trip to the National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Va., but some of you would probably prefer the trips already planned to Ford’s Theater or the Smithsonian Museums. Let’s make sure every student gets an opportunity to experience our nation’s great heritage.

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