Sneak peak at Close Up 2017

Yuri-Grace Ohashi, News co-Editor

While some believed the U.S. would never see the light at the end of the tunnel with this past election, the end has finally come. On Jan. 20, the inauguration of the country’s 45th president will take place, and 83 Starr’s Mill students will witness the ceremony in person through the Close Up Washington, D.C. program.

“With 83 students going, this is the third largest group that I’ve taken to Close Up,” social studies teacher and Close Up coordinator John Gloer said. In the past, the Mill’s largest group attended George W. Bush’s second inauguration in 2005, taking a total of 105 students. In 2013, Barack Obama’s second inauguration attracted a group of 97 students.

“Our school has the most students attending Close Up in the nation,” Gloer said. Over the course of the program this year, approximately 400 students who go to D.C. are from Georgia. Out of these 400, a total of 300 Georgia students will attend Close Up during the week of president-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration. “In comparison to the large schools in north Georgia, 83 students is impressive for a school our size,” he said.

In addition to the size of the group going, other differences make the Mill’s 2017 Close Up trip especially unique. Since the inauguration falls on a Friday this year, the week-long program was shifted back a day, ending on a Saturday instead. This change altered the group’s overall schedule, like having to arrive at the airport two hours earlier. Students report to the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport at 4:30 a.m. and fly up to Virginia on the first day of the program, Monday, Jan. 16, instead of arriving a day early like in years past. Gloer said that this change will require students to “jump into the busy week head-first,” but the experience is “worth it and truly life-changing.”

Not all schools offer the opportunity to attend Close Up, however, which drastically contrasts the Mill’s heavy participation. “I’ve learned from talking to other teachers from around the U.S. that Starr’s Mill is truly the best place to be,” Gloer said. “I hope that students realize the great opportunities like Close Up that are available at our school and how fortunate we are.”

Also attending the week-long program are Principal Allen Leonard, social studies department chair Susan King, social studies teacher Diane Ruane and CTAE teacher Patt Coleman. This will be Gloer’s 30th trip with Close Up Washington, D.C. and his eighth time attending a presidential inauguration. During his career, he has attended the program with both Fayette County High School and Starr’s Mill.

In addition to teaching, Gloer has been the coach for three high school sports. He said, however, that Close Up “wasn’t just something to do” at school. “I remember my first inauguration with Close Up was for [George] Bush Sr. in 1989,” he said. “I was 27-years-old, and [Close Up] has been a part of my life ever since.”