by Laurie Ham
Five Mound Westonka High School students and two teachers traveled to Washington D.C. last month for the annual Know America trip. This year's students, who earned the trip with tops scores on a test of U.S. government and history, were Addia Troyer, Lily Frenette, Arend Turner, Grette Treat and Emily Ruud. Scott Harrison qualified for the trip, but he also qualified for cross country ski nationals in Alaska during the same time period, so only five students took the trip.
The students were accompanied by MWHS social studies/history teachers Marc Doepner-Hove and Robert Paul.
Students visited more than 30 sites on their trip, including the State Department Reception Rooms, the White House, Vietnam Wall Memorial, World War II Memorial, Korean Memorial, Monticello (Thomas Jefferson's home), Gettysburg Battlefield, Tippacanoe Battlefield, Holocaust Museum, The Smithsonian Museums, the U.S Capitol and Arlington National Cemetery. The group also visited Rep. Erik Paulsen at his office.
Now in its 31st year, Know America is the only program of its kind in Minnesota, said Doepner-Hove. "We offer any student at MWHS the chance to take a test and we take the top six students to Washington D.C."
“We had a great group of students, and they were able to interact with our nation's history in a way you can't learn in books. It is a testament to this community that our community groups continue to support this kind of learning,” said Doepner-Hove. “These students come home from the trip exposed to ideas and experiences that will change how they look at the world. It is impossible to tour the Holocaust Museum or see the names on the Vietnam Memorial and not be impacted in a deep way.”
Know America is sponsored by the Westonka Community through contributions by The Northwest Tonka Lions, The Westonka Jaycees, American Legion Post 398, and the Mound Rotary Club. Doepner-Hove thanked the community organizations and the Westonka Public Schools for making Know America possible.