Once every two years, students at Waubun High School get to experience American democracy in action, first hand, with a five-day trip to Washington, D.C., through the Close Up Foundation.
While in our nation's capitol, the students who choose to sign up for the program visit with Minnesota lawmakers on Capitol Hill, tour all the national presidential and war memorials, as well as the Smithsonian, the Pentagon, and the National Museum of American History, just to name a few.
But in order to reach this goal, the students are required to raise the money for the trip themselves - so the 16 students who signed up for the program are organizing a benefit concert, to take place at the high school on Thursday, Oct. 20 at 7 p.m.
The concert will feature rock and blues musicians Corey Medina & Bros. The students' Close Up advisor, Dejah Anderson, caught Medina's performance at a blues festival in Thief River Falls this summer, opening for Jonny Lang, and she was so impressed that she got in touch with him to see if he'd be interested in doing a concert for the students at Waubun.
"I loved his music," Anderson said, adding that Medina was happy to come to Waubun, not only for the concert on the 20th, but to speak at the school on the 19th as part of their Unity Day anti-bullying activities.
Medina, who was raised on the Navajo Indian Reservation in New Mexico, relocated to Bemidji in 2012, and has been heavily involved youth ministry activities there, such as Rock Sober, a support program for teens struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.
According to the bio on his website, www.coreymedina.com, "Even though Corey loves to just write and play music, his mission is to spread a message of hope and encouragement to every tribe and tongue that has felt hopeless and held back in life by fear, shame and hurt."
Tickets for the concert are $8 for adults, $5 for students, and may be purchased at the Waubun High School office. Call Dejah Anderson at 218-473-6144 for more information.
About the Close Up program
Anderson said that Close Up program participants learn more about national and state government through activities like collaborative learning and debates on current issues.
"They're not only going (to Washington, D.C.) to see the sights, they come back to the hotel each day and discuss what they've learned and seen," she said. "They have workshops, and debates, and attend Congressional hearings. It's not just a tourist thing. They actually learn while they're there."
Because it costs each student $1,900 for the trip, including airfare, lodging and meals, Anderson said they chose to organize it for every other year, though some schools choose to participate every year. "It gives them some time to raise the money to go," she explained. "It's my job to give them every opportunity to earn the money they need, so it doesn't put a cost burden on the parents."
The students meet once or twice a month, as needed, to discuss their fundraising efforts as well as plan every aspect of the upcoming trip, which is set for the first week in May of 2017.
They sell concessions at school activities, do highway cleanup, sell pizzas, whatever they need to do, Anderson added.
For more information about the national Close Up program, which is open to all students in grades 9-12, please visit www.closeup.org.