The Dirksen Congressional Center
and Pekin Public School District 303 award scholarships each
year to students to attend the Close Up program in Washington,
D.C., to get a firsthand look at American government.
The Close Up Foundation is a not-for-profit organization in its third decade of bringing
students to the nation’s capital to study the democratic process. High
school students from across the country spend a week visiting legislative
sessions, meeting with members of the House and Senate, visiting historical sites,
and attending seminars.
The Dirksen Center donates from $2,000 to $3,500 per year to support Pekin High's
participation in CloseUp.
Close Up Foundation Comments
A dozen students from Pekin Community High School participated in the Close Up Foundation Washington DC experience in 2010. The Dirksen Congressional Center has provided grant support for the program continuously since 1983. Here are reports from several of the students:
"From my experience with the Close Up program, I was given a new, real-life perspective on the structure of our government and the people who make it run. I was also privileged enough to get to see some of the most historic and important places in our country. Not very many high school students can say they stood in the exact same place as Martin Luther King, Jr., when he gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. The entire experience was amazing and very inspiring. It showed me the impact that each of us can make if we choose to develop our opinions and stand up for what we believe in." Sydney Nelson
"The week I went to Washington D.C. for Close Up was breathtaking and very memorable. It was such an amazing five days that I can’t even think of explaining it all. Between getting to see all the different memorials and buildings to even seeing President Obama, it was a trip I will never forget. I have also started to learn about our nation’s government the past year, but this trip taught me so much more close-up information. I really appreciate having the opportunity to have gone to DC and meet new friends." Eric Buss
"My trip to Washington DC was incredible. I am so very grateful for the opportunity that I had to visit our nation’s capital. Our group was fortunate enough to witness all three branches of government. We witnessed the Judicial while listening to oral arguments in the Supreme Court. We experienced our Executive branch with our tour of the White House, as well as being in D.C. while the healthcare bill was signed into law. We witnessed the Legislative branch in action while visiting Congress—we sat in the galleries, talked with Representative Aaron Schock, met our Senators. It was a marvelous experience and a wonderful time. Thank you for your support!" Kelsey Meyer
"My time in Washington, D.C. opened my eyes to the democratic process that has been instilled in our nation. I learned many new and interesting things that I believe will improve my lifestyle as an adult in this country. Although this was a very educational trip, it had many moments of enjoyment. In all, the trip to D.C. was a once in a lifetime experience." Shayla Hancock
"The Close Up trip that I took in March was challenging and educational in many ways. The canvas of our trip, D.C., is full of so much history that it makes it the perfect place to learn. Being on this trip taught me so much about our country, its inner workings, and the people who made it great. Our trips to the various presidential memorials taught us about each individual man’s life, their presidency and personality. In visiting each war memorial, we all felt the somber tones of battles fought by Americans that made our country and our freedom greater. Finally, touring the massive Capitol Hill area gave us insight, knowledge, and respect for our very hard-working legislative branch. In short, what I gained from this trip was a sense of pride and awe for this nation and its people." Julie Tippey
"Throughout my trip to Washington, D.C., for the Close Up program, I learned many things politically and about myself. As the days flew by, we managed to do everything there is to do. I learned the importance of our country. I learned what people went through to protect the U.S. as I looked at the names of all those who lost their lives in wars. Given the chance to debate with other students gave me the opportunity to speak my mind and realize that one individual can make a difference by using their voice. I have become more open about how I feel about what is going on in the world today. Knowing how America works, seeing D.C. up close, and hearing others’ opinions really opened my eyes. Meeting deaf students taught me so much. I learned that no one is different, everyone has an opinion, and no matter what, our opinions matter! D.C. was definitely an experience I will never forget. I am so thankful to have been chosen for this great trip." Hayley Bass