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Displaying items by tag: Washington, DC

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Three hundred students, eight buses, and five hours of driving led to an educational experience of a lifetime for Maple Avenue Middle School’s eighth graders. 

After being inspired by Ballston Spa Middle school (who have taken their eighth-grade students to D.C before), eighth-grade teachers at Maple Ave. Middle School persisted in seeking approval and support to take their students out of the classroom for a hands-on learning experience. The biggest obstacle faced organizing and executing the trip was gathering the funds; successfully, approximately $20,000 was raised. 
"We wanted every student to be able to financially go. We were not excluding anybody,” said Trisha Phillips, an eighth grade English teacher at Maple Ave. Middle School. “The community really came together. Parents out of nowhere sent a check to be able to sponsor a kid." 
Once arriving in D.C the students and teachers ventured throughout the city with their tour guides learning myriads of topics through visiting monuments, memorials and museums. 
"Going down there and having a tour guide, and they are educating you. They make it eighth-grade friendly too so you can really understand it," said Phillips. 
The visit was worth every fundraiser, and every dime donated as it was not only fulfilling for the teachers but for the student’s as well. 
"I really liked all of the history I experienced in the museums. You can’t find that in a textbook," said Lily Cubanski, Maple Ave. eighth-grade student. "I feel like going to D.C. made students more excited to learn about history in ways that they wouldn't learn in a classroom.” 
Small donations and community involvement played a hand in showing children of Saratoga how exciting and how vast the history of our nation truly is. The teachers are grateful for the opportunity to incorporate the trip into the school curriculum. "
I want to say a huge thank you, to all of the people who contributed. There were 8 to 10 Saratoga businesses who stepped up to the plate to contribute,” said Phillips. “All the teachers at Ballston Spa that were really so giving and willing to give us their ideas and to support and help us. And the superintendent and principal who gave us the green light to be able to make it happen." 
Be sure to check out next week’s edition of Saratoga TODAY for Cubanski’s article, recalling their trip to D.C.
Published in Education

SCHUYLERVILLE – One local student will soon be off to D.C. for the opportunity of her high school career.

Freya Birkas-Dent, a junior at Schuylerville High School, will begin a three-week position in the competitive and prestigious United States Senate Page program on June 11, which will run until June 30. Birkas-Dent will be sponsored by N.Y. Senator Chuck Schumer, and was one of only 30 students from across the country selected for the program.

Her responsibilities during these three weeks will include administrative tasks, such as filing paperwork and delivering documents and mail between offices. The program will also involve time in the Senate Chamber, during which pages will be responsible for arranging papers at each seat and holding doors, according to Birkas-Dent. She will also be attending page school, to “l earn about parliamentary procedure and the legislative process,” according to the Schuylerville schools website.

Birkas-Dent first became aware of the Senate page position while reading a book written by former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, in which he references pages as the people who perform various administrative tasks for the Senate. This interested her, and she began researching the position by visiting the websites of some of her Senators.

She first got in touch with the offices of N.Y. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, inquiring about page positions for the spring or fall, as she initially wanted to apply for one that would happen during the school year. Finding that neither Senator had available positions for those sessions, she applied to a number of Senators from different states, including Susan Collins of Maine and Claire McCaskill of Mo. This too failed to yield fruitful results, as she said that Senators prefer to sponsor pages from their own constituencies. Finally, Senator Schumer came through with a page position for the summer, which she accepted.

“I’m really interested in going into international relations or into government,” Birkas-Dent said about what inspired her to pursue a position like this. “We learn about this kind of stuff in the classroom, but you really don’t have a tangible experience with it. It’s kind of shrouded in secrecy what actually goes on there, so I don’t feel like I have a good understanding of exactly how it runs on a day-to-day basis.”

Birkas-Dent believes this position will give her the sort of understanding of the legislative process necessary for her to decide if it is a career path that she would like to follow. Some of the careers she has considered for herself include elected official, diplomat, or possibly working with a non-profit doing international relations work. Whatever career she ends up pursuing, she knows that she would like to go into the Peace Corps after college.

“I think the U.N. [United Nations] would be really interesting to be in,” Birkas-Dent said. “But I think it’s hard to get into as an American. So I’ve kind of branched out.”

Back at home, Birkas-Dent is involved with a number of groups and programs focused on environmental preservation. She is the president of the high school’s Environmental Club, and works with the Hudson River Community Advisory Group, which works on various things including dredging and floodplain sampling. She is also the captain of her school’s Climate Leadership Team, and with that group recently attended the Adirondack Youth Climate Summit. While environmental issues are important to her, she said that were she to get involved with politics in the future, they would likely be a side issue for her and not a core part of her hypothetical platform, given the divisive conversation surrounding such issues.

“I’m very excited,” Birkas-Dent said about beginning her new position. “I’m excited to meet people from all over the country. It’s a little bit nerve-wracking cause we don’t know yet what we’ll be doing exactly, but I think it’ll be a good experience and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Published in Education