Jing O’Brien hugging her mom goodbye at the Wrangell airport before embarking on her journey. (Laura Helgeson/ KSTK)

A group of Wrangell High School students left their tiny, island town for about a week. They visited Washington D.C. and New York City. “I really liked seeing the monuments I had been learning about my entire life just come alive,” said junior Jing O’Brien.

The group left for Seattle on April 26th, 2019 before flying across the country to Washington D.C. (Laura Helgeson/ KSTK)
The plane ride from Seattle to D.C. was about five hours long, leaving lots of time for napping and boredom, but no homework. (Laura Helgeson/ KSTK)
Madison Blackburn right after landing in the D.C. airport. (Laura Helgeson/ KSTK)
It was all five girls’ first time in the country’s capital, and three of the five’s first time on the east coast. (Laura Helgeson/ KSTK)
Sarah Merritt (pictured in the pink blazer above) is the group’s advisor and arranged the first two days worth of activities, dragging the group around D.C. at full speed. She heads Wrangell’s legislative information office. (Laura Helgeson/ KSTK)
(Laura Helgeson/ KSTK)
Our first stop on Saturday was to the historical city of Alexandria just outside Washington D.C. Among the activities there was a ride in an old-time trolley. (Laura Helgeson/ KSTK)
An elderly, street musician performs using wine glasses of varying sizes. (Laura Helgeson/ KSTK)
Alexandria was rich with various street artists and performers. This included everything from jazz bands to hip-hop dancers. (Laura Helgeson/ KSTK)
Adriana Larrabee, Jing O’Brien, and Madison Blackburn (right to left) await patiently to be assigned rooms at the hotel. Adriana was the only Wrangell girl without a roommate from her hometown. “Well, it was awkward sleeping in a bed with someone [I had never met before]…it got better as we talked, we all did.” (Laura Helgeson/ KSTK)
Wrangell’s first, thrilling ride on the city metro. (Laura Helgeson/ KSTK)
“I really loved D.C. It was a very clean city, and I just really liked the historical sights and everything about it.” —Jing O’Brien (Laura Helgeson/ KSTK)
Sunday morning started off with the Navy Memorial, featuring large fountains, maritime flags, and sculptures depicting life in the Navy. (Laura Helgeson/ KSTK)
Across the street from the memorial is the National Archives housing infamous documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Magna Carta. (Laura Helgeson/ KSTK)
The Close Up program brings students from across the country to Washington D.C. for about a week in order to tour the city and discuss how the U.S. government works. (Laura Helgeson/ KSTK)
Our first view of the Capitol building. The Wrangell girls, along with one other group from Yakutat, would travel to the Capitol that Wednesday to meet Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Representative Don Young. The senators were unfortunately not able to attend, but sent staff members instead. (Laura Helgeson/ KSTK)
The Washington Monument from the steps of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. “I really liked seeing the monuments I had been learning about my entire life just come alive.” —Jing O’Brien (Laura Helgeson/ KSTK)
Close Up Students chose any of the several Smithsonian Museums on the National Mall to visit according to their interests. (Laura Helgeson/ KSTK)
Adriana Larrabee in the Smithsonian National Gallery of Art. (Laura Helgeson/ KSTK)
A fountain in the center of the western wing of the museum. (Laura Helgeson/ KSTK)
Close Up’s visit to the World War II Memorial with the Lincoln Memorial in the distance. “I really liked the people, obviously. There was just a ton of different diversity and different ideas in politics.” (Laura Helgeson/ KSTK)
The last historical sight we visited in D.C. was Arlington Cemetery. The weather was expecting thunderstorms that day. Adriana Larrabee looks at the thunderclouds overhead. (Laura Helgeson/ KSTK)

We rode the bus on Friday May 3 four hours up to New York City. Among the day’s activities was seeing King Kong on Broadway. Here a student from North Dakota is wearing a cowboy hat and looks up at the lights. (Laura Helgeson/ KSTK)
Local art student recreates a painting in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Laura Helgeson/ KSTK)
New York’s foggy skyline on the boat ride to Liberty Island.(Laura Helgeson/ KSTK)
Statue of Liberty emerging from the trees. The five girls returned from Close Up on May 5. (Laura Helgeson/ KSTK)