When Washington Seminar traveled to Washington, D.C., for its first week of field research:
- “Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd and “Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite” by Elvis Presley topped the music charts.
- A ceasefire was declared in Vietnam.
- The Miami Dolphins defeated the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII to complete a perfect 17-0 season.
Parker High School government teacher John Eyster took seven young scholars to D.C. from March 3 to 11 in 1973 for that first week of study in Washington. The world has changed dramatically since then, yet the benefits of educational experiences outside the classroom walls remain.
AP Government students from Craig and Parker high schools continue the tradition beginning today for the 46th consecutive year of Washington Seminar.
The recent growth in the program has prompted the need to conduct field research in Washington over two weeks.
The Parker scholars will visit the week of March 12, and Craig scholars follow the week of March 19. Efforts have been made to ensure that both groups share similar educational experiences, including briefings by House Speaker Paul Ryan, Rep. Mark Pocan and Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson.
Ryan arranged for both groups to have a conference room in the Capitol for a day while conducting research on Capitol Hill.
The Washington Seminar scholars are required to conduct meaningful interviews on federal government topics they have studied for months. Those interviews are used for a final paper that’s a required component of the AP grade they will receive.
Cultural events are also planned for each week, including a brunch at the famous Willard Hotel, where the back and forth of lobbying was first practiced; a performance at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the nation’s center for performing arts; and an entertaining evening at the Ronald Reagan Center and International Trade Center with The Capitol Steps, a political satire group.
During its 46-year history, Washington Seminar has benefited from strong leadership.
After Eyster retired, the program was led by Parker government teacher Joe VanRooy. AP government teachers Kate Bennett at Parker and Samantha Riehbrandt at Craig now lead the program.
One thing hasn’t changed over the years—the distance from Janesville to Washington.
Eyster recorded the mileage on the Ford station wagon that traveled from Parker High to the John Kilpen Hotel, where his group stayed that first year. As all good scholars are, Eyster was precise: 807.2 miles.