Whitehall High School’s Horizon Club sent past juniors and seniors and current students to Washington, D.C., to visit national monuments and learn the history of the nation’s capital in person. Chemistry teacher John Etu chaperoned the event.
“There were 46 students and four chaperones so there was a total of 50 of us on the trip,” Etu said. “Normally we organize this trip in the spring and take our sophomores and it’s usually connected to the Global 10 Curriculum because one of the major things we see down there is the Holocaust Museum. So that’s related to that global studies curriculum they get before the Regents exam.”
Etu explained that the last two trips had been canceled due to the pandemic and Heather Ernenwein, who organized the trip, made it available to juniors and seniors who were unable to attend their trips and a spring trip Is being planned for the current sophomore class.
“We’re hopefully in the spring going to do another trip for the sophomores like we normally would in the past,” he said.
On the trip, student Louie Pratt not only got to see the monuments but was able to visit the Washington, D.C., SADD office.
“It worked out perfectly because it ended up being a block away from the White House…so it was really convenient for us to go and meet with them,” Etu said.
Pratt explained that he was able to meet with the CEO of SADD, Rick Birt, as well as Board of Directors member Rich Levitan when he visited. They also brought Pratt and Etu to the top of the office building to see the view, which Pratt explained was a sight he hopes he will never forget.
“When we went up to the roof of the building and when you get up there, you could see everything and it was so pretty,” Pratt said.
One of the highlights of the trip, Etu said, was an outdoor guided tour from representatives of Rep. Elise Stefanik’s office. The group also saw the national monuments at night. Etu explained that it has a bigger effect at night with how it is lit.
“We did the World War II monument, the Washington monument, Vietnam, the Lincoln Memorial and they’re really cool at night because the way they’re illuminated makes it seem that much more impressive than they already are during the day,” he said.
Pratt explained that he was most drawn to the grandeur of the Lincoln and Washington Monument. He was mostly impressed with how large the monuments are versus what you see on TV.
“Washington Monument, I knew it was going to be big but standing next to it, it’s huge and I didn’t expect it to be as tall as it was. It was breathtaking” he said.
For Pratt, being able to see the national office for SADD was an experience he will never forget. He also saw this as an opportunity to familiarize himself with the area before he goes back in June for a presentation he will be giving to the national board of directors.
“He is one of our rock stars and he is involved in everything! There isn’t a thing that goes on in the school community that Louie isn’t a part of and he is an absolute rock star,” Etu said.