In late April, 21 students and 6 parents made their maiden journey on Southwest Airlines to our nation's Capitol. Led by Social Studies Teacher Sean Haardt, the group toured the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, the White House, the U.S. Capitol and other key DC sites.
As part of a history lesson, the students also visited Arlington Cemetery and the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Mt. Vernon (Washington's home) and the Antietam Civil War National Battlefield. They also found time for a colonial ghost tour in Alexandria, Virginia, a dinner cruise on the Potomac River, three Smithsonian Museums and the International Spy Museum.
Wow, and they only had three days to see it all.
Visit to White House - A small group of Senior students met with Sonya Medina, Projects Director for the First Lady, Laura Bush. Sonia spoke to the students of her journey to the White House. Sonia who is originally from San Antonio started as an intern with President Bush in 2000 and has steadily moved her way up the ranks. She incidentally is a cousin of a famous movie star, the amazing Eva Longoria of "Desperate Housewives" fame.
U.S. Capitol - Being treated royally on a visit to Congress is not usually the treatment a guest receives. It normally is the other way around as the constituent must constantly wait for an appointment, and rarely will they see their Congressional member.
Thanks to U.S. Congressman Gene Green, the visiting Sanchez students got the red-carpet treatment instead. Gene now in his 7th term spent significant quality time as he took individual photos with many students and discussed such key issues as immigration, rising gas/oil prices, and his familiarity with southeast Houston, Denver Harbor, and areas where many of the kids are from. He noted his prior to AAMA and his appreciation of the agency and its efforts. You could see how impressed the students were when he mentioned their neighborhoods and understood the many community problems. He spoke about HR # 4437, the Immigration bill and his problems with it. He indicates he instead supports the McCain-Kennedy Senate bill instead. The students took a tour of the Capitol, visited his office and thanked Congressman Green for his wonderful hospitality.
Latino Leaders Luncheon - Students visited with Janet Murguia, President of NCLR and other Latino Leaders at a luncheon hosted by AAMA. She thanked the students for visiting the Capitol and NCLR at this historic time. She added that NCLR has recently purchased the "Raul Yzaguirre Building" which is only two blocks from the White House. She noted that La Raza has now grown to be an "American Institution" and is one of the leading national organizations that work on behalf of Latinos here in the U.S. Janet answered questions on the immigration bill, education initiatives and NCLR's overall advocacy efforts. Other key guests included Lourdes Tijerina from the Cuban National Council, Rita Jaramillo from the National Education Assoc. (NEA) and Charles Kamasaki, Policy Director for NCLR, who is originally from Texas.
Mr. Moreno subsequently received a call from one of the leaders above who noted how impressed she was with the George I. Sanchez students and especially one boy who spoke about his humble "low-income" background, but that this would not stop him from succeeding in life.