Learning Both Sides of the Debate on Hill Day

Learning Both Sides of the Debate on Hill Day
Dani Seiss

On Hill Day in February, 8th graders went on GDS’s annual field trip to Capitol Hill (and other locales in the district) to interview policymakers and experts on prominent constitutional issues. 

Organized via the office of Community Engagement and Experiential Learning (CEEL), and their history classes, this trip is one of the culminating experiences for students who have been studying major, national dialogue issues all year long known as Citizen Corps topics. The eight topics they focused on this year were the second amendment, access to education, criminal justice, economic inequality, environmental justice, freedom of speech, immigration, and reproductive justice. Students worked on exploring both sides of an issue, then will follow up with in-depth research papers later in the spring. 

In preparation for the big day, students first met with journalists (and current GDS parents) Cecilia Kang and Lulu Garcia Navarro, as well as Sarah Ampolsk during class on January 30 to gain insight into how to conduct an effective interview. 

The students also had the chance to meet with 18 high school student mentors who provided interview tips, sample questions, and details about their own Hill Day experiences. These mentors met in pairs with the 8th graders two days before their field trip.

During Hill Day, students then met with individuals representing different viewpoints on the issues. Check out some of the experts who met with students below:

  • Second Amendment: Brady: United Against Gun Violence and Lexy Higgins, Grassroots Manager of the National Rifle Association 
  • Access to education: Kimberly Hanaue, Founder & CEO of educational consultation group UnlockED and Simon Hankinson, Senior Research Fellow in the Border Security and Immigration Center at The Heritage FoundationCriminal justice: James Craven, Legal Associate for Cato Institute's Project on Criminal Justice and Cait Clarke, Previous Chief at the Office of Defender Services 
  • Economic inequality: Nathan Roth, Special Assistant with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Rachel Greszler, Senior Research Fellow on Workforce and Public Finance with The Heritage Foundation.

View the photo gallery >>

Learning Both Sides of the Debate on Hill Day