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Msgr. Pace High students continue 30-year Close-Up tradition

Msgr. Pace High students pose for a photo inside Holy Trinity Catholic Church near Georgetown University in Washington D.C.


Msgr. Pace High students pose for a photo inside Holy Trinity Catholic Church near Georgetown University in Washington D.C.

MIAMI | Students from Msgr. Edward Pace High School headed to Washington D.C. from Jan. 11 to Jan. 16 for Close Up, an educational experience for high school students to learn more about how the federal government and the nation’s capital operates.

Chaperoned by Pace Dean of Students Valerie Lloyd and history teacher Victoria Spadafora, the students became part of a 30-year tradition for Pace, which has been sending students to Close Up since 1985. 

“I wanted to witness firsthand how the government solves current issues,” said senior Justin Gerlin, one of the 12 Pace students on the trip. “It’s an experience most students my age don’t have the opportunity to do.”

Pace students traveled and worked together with high school students from across the country, hearing their stories and perspectives, and making new friends. They split into workshop groups to visit locations around Washington D.C., such as the city’s famed memorials, the Smithsonian museums, and the Library of Congress. Workshops revolved around current government issues and how the students would try and solve them.

“We debated on issues such as gun control, immigration, and minimum wage,” said Pace senior Alex Hernandez. 

At one of these workshops, students and chaperones found an unexpected Pace connection when they ran into Lauren Fischer, Education Program Specialist with the U.S. Diplomacy Center, and wife of class of 1987 Pace alumnus Eugene Fischer, who is a Spanish teacher at a middle school in Virginia.

The students also visited government locations, such as embassies, the White House, and Capitol Hill, where they participated in a mock Congress session to debate and vote on issues. Possibly one of the most unique experiences, however, was witnessing the Supreme Court justices in person deliberating over a case.

On the first and final days of the trip, Pace students explored Georgetown University and its surrounding community. 

“Close Up provides young adults with a more profound understanding of (the American government’s) inner components,” said Alex. “It also reminded us that we, as young adults, still have a very crucial voice in our government and society as a whole.” 

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