Washington Seminar growing, reaching out
JANESVILLE A longstanding program that demands college-like work from high school students is booming after its expansion last year.
The program took its largest group to Washington, D.C., last year, 52 students. Fifty-three are projected for this spring’s trip.
Those numbers came after 10 years in which the average group was about 26. The difference: District officials decided to expand the program from Parker High School to include Craig High School.
Washington Seminar started in 1973 when Parker teacher John Eyster took a handful of students to the nation’s capital in a donated station wagon.
Seminar students do more than just see the sights and hear lectures about how the government works. They wear business attire, research a public policy issue in advance and conduct interviews with government officials to flesh out their knowledge for a final writing project.
That basic framework did
not change when Eyster retired in 2000 and teacher Joe Van Rooy took over.
The inaugural year at Craig required some changes. Some students had commitments and could not spend the week in Washington, so a Madison Seminar was set up to let them do their research on state government and still be around for other extracurricular activities, said Stan Milam, who has been a volunteer adviser to the program for a number of years.
Another first for the program comes Saturday, when the group holds its first fundraiser, a breakfast at Applebee’s.
The program has kept costs to students steady for the past 10 years, and no one is denied a spot for lack of funds.
“We believe it is important that those of us in the seminar programs—students, staff and volunteers—to demonstrate our efforts to fund what we do,” said Scott Gudgel, the Craig teacher who co-directs the program with Van Rooy. “We rely on donations from community organizations, so it’s important we join in that support.”
“I want to thank all the local organizations and individuals who have supported us over the years and continue to support us,” Van Rooy said. “We highly value that support, and we will continue to do everything we can to meet our costs.”
The combined program mingles Parker and Craig students. They are assigned to teams based on their area of study.
Washington Seminar students depart Saturday, March 9, for Washington, D.C.
Thirty-seven students plan to attend Madison Seminar on Monday, March 4.
IF YOU GO
What: Craig and Parker high schools’ Washington Seminar/Madison Seminar flapjack breakfast
When: 8-10 a.m. Saturday
Where: Applebee’s, 3024 Milton Ave., Janesville.
Tickets: $5. Tickets available from seminar students and at the door Saturday. Four dollars from each ticket goes to Washington Seminar programs and scholarships.
More information: Call Scott Gudgel, 608-743-5401, or Joe Van Rooy, 608-743-5711.