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National Close up Trip (Pix!)

In its second consecutive year, Close Up was, once again, a success. The students – Erin Severson, Jair Peltier, Shelby Pedie, Ashleigh Jerde, Alexis Kihle, and Jocelyn Jahner – along with Bottineau High School teacher and their advisor Gale Wondrasek-Lane, were immersed in the learning program for 8 days, traveling from our nation’s capitol, Washington D.C., to a short but sweet taste of the nation’s biggest city, New York City. The group may have been small, but that did not detract from the trip – perhaps it even made things easier. Having a smaller set of troops made them much more flexible and better able to please each of those in the group.

The program took them to places like the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington Cemetery, as well as the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, various Smithsonian’s, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, 30 Rockefeller Center. Also, while in D.C. the students heard from speaker and former Independent party candidate Ralph Nader and they had the opportunity of meeting North Dakota’s two senators, Heidi Headlamp and former Governor John Hoeven, as well as North Dakota’s sole Representative, Kevin Kramer.

Mrs. Wondrasek-Lane asked her students if they could find Senator John Hoeven office and meet a past student of hers, Ryan Bernstein. Ryan Bernstein is Senator Hoeven’s Chief of Staff and was a graduate of 1996 Bottineau High School. Ryan was a very accommodating in showing Senator Hoven’s office and lining up an impromptu tour of the Capitol. The Close Up Group was taken on a special tour of the Brumidi Corridors on the first floor of the Senate wing to view and learn about the ornate paintings on the walls and ceilings designed by Constantino Brumidi between 1857 and 1859. They also were able to see the way the Capitol and the Congress was during the Civil War, with stops at the Old Supreme Court Chamber, the Old Senate Chamber

Mrs. Wondrasek-Lane is extremely proud of Ryan Bernstein. He has done so well after Bottineau High School and just a wonderful person to know. In 2008, North Dakota State University presented Bernstein its Horizon Award that “honors an individual who has achieved outstanding career accomplishments within ten years of graduation.” After graduating from the University of North Dakota School of Law, Bernstein served as law clerk to N.D. Supreme Court Justice Dale V. Sandstrom, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Miller. Prior to law school, Bernstein served as the student member on the North Dakota Board of Higher Education, and as an advisor to Governor Edward Schafer.

The information and values learned on Close Up are nearly immeasurable. The students and advisors alike learn things that people may never know about the monuments and history of these cities. Every minute is utilized to its prime potential to enlighten and entertain. Students learn things about government and society, but they also learn things like how diverse the U.S. really is. Students from all over the country and even from Mexico participate in the program and they also experience the culture and people of the places they visit. They learn important social skills as they mingle with other students. They develop a further knowledge for their government and how they can, or, rather, will be, involved in it. They can learn to be confident in political views and, therefore, themselves.

-gale wondrasek-lane