Sophomore wins trip to Washington, D.C.

Emma Yarrow and Nina Grudt meet with senator Chuck Grassley in Washington D.C.

Sophomore Emma Yarrow won her way to Washington, D.C., as a part of the “Know Your Constitution” contest where she completed a 50 question multiple choice test along with the essay portion of the test. Yarrow was able to bring along her teacher and fellow history buff Nina Grudt on her journey to the nation’s capital. The two set out on Feb. 24 and returned on Feb. 28, but completed a long list of bucket list tasks in their few days there.

Every year, close to 1000 participants enter the contest and 100 students are selected to go to a banquet. Five lucky banquet attendees are picked at random to go on a trip with their history teacher to D.C. 

Of course, Yarrow was overjoyed when her name was drawn because this would be her first time visiting Washington, D.C. “It made it exciting to see all of our nation’s history for the first time in person,” Yarrow said.

During their stay, Yarrow said they were able to achieve a lot and see multiple fascinating exhibits. “We saw most of the national monuments and visited multiple Smithsonians. The main focus of our trip was to increase our political efficacy,” Yarrow said. “I also visited Capitol Hill, listened to a committee hearing and got to meet both of the Iowa senators from my district.”  

Grudt was thrilled at the chance to meet the Iowa senators and will remember it as a highlight from the trip. “My favorite part of the trip was the ‘Capitol Hill Day.’  Emma and I went around Capitol Hill. We got to meet both our senators, got a private tour of the Capital and listened in on a committee hearing. It was so exciting to see government in action,” Grudt said.

Happy to tag along on the trip, Grudt said she was proud of the work Yarrow put into the contest. “Emma really took the initiative and applied on her own. I asked her if I could look over her essay and she didn’t need me to. She did great,” Grudt said. “I emphasized to Emma that this is a huge deal. I have never had a student receive such an academic honor in social studies.”

Separated for parts of the trip, Grudt said students and teachers were given different opportunities and agendas for the week. “Teachers were taken to sights in D.C. that are more ‘off the beaten track.’ For example, we got to go to the American Revolution Institute and hold an original copy of ‘Common Sense.’ They also took us out to Fort McHenry, the spot for the inspiration of the Star Spangled Banner,” Grudt said. “Another cool thing we got to do was go to the Cryptologic Museum to learn about code-breaking throughout American History.” 

Although they may have gone to different sites throughout the week, both Yarrow and Grudt enjoyed exploring different museums. “I really enjoyed the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It was very interactive, colorful and educational,” Yarrow said. “A lot of people that were with me on the trip said that it was one of their favorites too.”

Grudt said she loved going to the Smithsonian museums during their stay. “There is so much to see and do in each of the museums. Also, just walking around the national mall and looking at all the monuments,” Grudt said. “It is beautiful.”

For her first time visiting the nation’s capital, Yarrow said she was glad to have Grudt’s support throughout the entire contest process and trip. “She kept me updated with everything I needed to know for the trip and encouraged me to make the most of this education journey,” Yarrow said. “We both love history so it was great to experience everything together.”

Spending time with such a passionate student and history lover, Grudt said their mutual love for all things government made for a great trip full of bonding. “We talked about her future and had a chance to experience something new together. Very cool,” Grudt said.

Although she admits it was a little difficult to get caught up on school work since she was gone, Yarrow said the experience was rewarding and encourages all students to try it. “Even if you don’t win, you still learn a lot about the constitution and about current issues in our country,” Yarrow said. 

Grudt echoed Yarrow’s enthusiasm and encouraged interested students to “go for it! It looks great on a resume, and you could win this amazing trip as well,” Grudt said.

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