Cleburne High School AP Government teacher Eric Peets is hoping to inspire a deeper interest in U.S. history and government in students through a 2022 trip to the nation’s capital.
Peets, who has made multiple visits to Washington, D.C., since childhood, will be a chaperone and program leader for the CHS tour scheduled the week of March 9-12, 2022. The trip, which is a non-school sponsored activity, is being coordinated by WorldStrides Educational Travel and Experiences.
“I’m believing a year from now COVID will be behind us and things will be more normal, making this trip a safe and enjoyable experience,” Peets said. “On this once-in-a-lifetime adventure, CHS students will explore our nation’s most important historical sites and experience incomparable learning moments. From my own visits to the capital, I know this will be something they will never forget.”
Incoming freshman, along with CHS students currently in grades 9-11, will be eligible for participation. Parents may also sign up for the trip. The student cost, which includes round trip airfare, hotel accommodations, meals and related costs, is $1,999, which can be paid out over monthly installments. Students whose family income is $85,000 or less, may pay a discounted amount.
Having grandparents living in neighboring Fairfax, Virginia, Peets made his first visit to Washington, D.C., as a second-grader.
“My memories go back that far,” he said. “When I was a senior at Burleson High School, our choir trip was to Washington, D.C. On one of my visits, I was at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day when President Bush’s motorcade came through. He was there to lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I also have an uncle buried in Arlington National Cemetery.”
Peets has toured the White House and been inside the Oval Office, which are among the highlights of his list of “amazing” things he’s done as a D.C. visitor through the years.
“My passion is government — it’s what I went to college for,” he said. “I eat, drink and sleep our history and the role of our government — and I love to teach it. I can be as passionate as I can be in my classroom, showing my students pictures and videos and taking them there virtually. But when you step foot in the House Chamber, see the Jefferson Memorial in person or the visit the Tidal Basin, it’s different. It becomes etched in your memory.
“The four days our students would have in Washington, D.C., won’t allow them to see it all, but they will experience a lot,” he said. “They’ll visit Mount Vernon, the home of our first President. Our kids have all helped write social contracts for their classrooms, and they will see the social contract of our nation, the Bill of Rights, which is on display in the National Archives.”
In addition to touring the various Smithsonian Museums, the Pentagon Memorial, the Washington Monument and other “must-see” sites, Peets is excited for the overall effect of the travel experience on students.
“A lot of kids, even at this age level, have never been on an airplane,” he said. “They’ll ride the Metro in getting from place to place. They’ll experience the heritage of our nation, they’ll see architecture they are not accustomed to. We will also have the opportunity to visit the members of the U.S. Congress who represent our community in Washington. I think that is a very important part of the activities that will be scheduled. We’ll also have them journaling, to chronicle where they go, what they see and all the things they will get to do.”