CloseUp showcases nation’s history, government


Henry Frazier ’22

Andrei Lynch ’22, Sophia Carrasquilla ’22 and Joseph Zuloaga ’23 pose in front of Capitol Hill before meeting with a representative from Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office.

After a two-year program shut down, Riordan opened the opportunity this year for juniors and seniors to embark on an interactive trip to our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. 

Through the nonprofit organization, Close Up, 30 students were excused from classes for one week, to explore and expand their knowledge of our growing democratic government. 

In the middle of March, schools from Nebraska, North Dakota, Hawaii, Utah, Florida and California all met to discuss our nation’s civics.  

I loved meeting with, interacting with, and making friends with them all” stated Mason McKee ’23. “I feel it’s important to understand how our peers in other parts of the country live their lives and it helped open my eyes to how different yet similar their lives and ours are.”

During their one week stay, students visited a plethora of monuments, memorials and museums all across Washington, D.C.–like the Lincoln Memorial–to expand their understanding of American history and political values, as well as having the opportunity to take postcard shots with old and new friends. The group also visited the Capitol, the White House, and Arlington National Cemetery in nearby Arlington, VA. 

Niyah Smith Spivey ’23 enjoyed visiting the Martin Luther King Memorial. She said, “It honors his legacy as he was a leader during the civil rights movement and tirelessly advocated for racial equality, freedom and justice. Because of his impact I’m able to have the life I have today, so seeing his memorial was very inspiring.”

Cash Bolos ’23 believes the importance of these memorials are how “we remember historical figures, what they have done, and how much everything has changed.” 

On Capitol Hill, students met with a representative from Senator Diane Feinstein’s office and got the unique opportunity to ask questions about issues they deeply care about.

Additionally, Close Up workshops provided many opportunities for debate on current issues, such as college affordability and homelessness where students took it upon themselves to show off their extensive knowledge in various topics and ability to hold a functional debate. 

In times away from transferring in between sights, the group was able to self explore nearby towns around DC to truly experience the cultural differences, visit other sights, and even dance in the hotel. Some even got a chance to see–from a distance–President Biden’s motorcade. 

Reminiscing on seeing President Obama’s motorcade in 2013 in SF, Henry Frazier ’22 compared, “In DC it was totally random. When our bus just stopped I think all of us thought that something bad happened (we were stopped in front of a parking garage and a car was trying to get out) and everyone was like “what’s going on” then a minute later we just see a bunch of lights and armored cars! Surely different compared to the motorcade I saw in 2013!” 

Overall, this trip was enjoyed by all the students as it gave them the opportunity to visit the seat of government, a thought shared by Social Science instructor Jackie Grealish who called Closeup “a unique experience.”