Saint Mary's School News

AP US Government and Politics: Taking Classroom Learnings to Capitol Hill


Recently, students of AP US Government and Politics traveled to Washington D.C. to apply course content to real-life settings. The trip was designed to give students a comprehensive view of the different branches of government and the role of the media. Students had the opportunity to meet with members of Congress, lobbyists, and media producers, offering them the opportunity to engage in Q&A sessions and to better understand how each component operates.

The trip to our nation’s capital embraced Saint Mary’s mission to prepare students for college and life. Students not only had the opportunity to see the course content in action, but they also made many connections and contacts in D.C., including opportunities for internships. This school trip also gave students exposure to a variety of job opportunities in the political realm.

Saint Mary’s values of communication, excellence in learning, and community were present in this trip. Students engaged in discussions with individuals from different backgrounds and perspectives. This allowed them to see how bipartisanship plays a role in shaping the political landscape. They also saw the impact that community partnerships can have on opening doors for future opportunities.

We know an all-girl learning environment inspires girls to step outside their comfort zone, engage their minds, amplify their voices, and discover who they are and who they want to become. So when Marta Zanewiski, VP, State Regulatory and Legislative Affairs of AICPA, remarked on the importance to “walk into any meeting room, especially when there are a majority of men, and always know your worth,” our students embraced her statement with gratitude. Lilly Bryant ‘23 reflected, “Hearing Ms. Zanewiski’s work under First Lady Laura Bush was really inspiring and showed us that there’s a lot of work done behind the scenes.”

Students met briefly with Congresswoman Deborah Ross, Representative for North Carolina's 2nd District, followed by a meeting with several members of her staff. Staffers shared a broad range of professional opportunities and suggested to students to explore their interests. Emma Key ‘23, shared “Seeing young women allowed us to imagine ourselves in a similar position in the near future. It was also great to hear that it is important to be confident in our abilities and competencies.”   

On the evening of February 6th, thanks to the help of both Representative Ross's and Representative Hudson's offices, we were able to secure gallery passes to watch the House of Representative vote on HR-185 which ended requirements by the CDC for foreign travelers.  We watched an electronic vote, which took place for 15 minutes, and from our seats in the gallery, we observed the interactions between different representatives and watched them individually vote. We experienced, first-hand, the Legislative Branch exercising one of its constitutional powers enumerated in Article I.  "As someone who has never been inside the House of Representatives, it was fascinating to see how the members conduct the vote, as well as conduct themselves. Seeing members go across party lines to speak with each other was really moving, as I feel citizens forget that there is a unity that isn't always shown in the media. I highly recommend students take AP Government to learn about how cool our government is and to have a chance to see it in action," expressed Adele Harris ‘23. 

The trip also supported Saint Mary's leadership opportunities by providing students with exposure to different career pathways and professional opportunities. Students had the chance to hear from individuals working in a variety of roles, such as lobbyists, media producers, and politicians. This gave them a glimpse into what their future could hold if they choose to pursue a career in politics or a related field.

A variety of competencies for life were fostered in this trip, including communication, critical thinking, collaboration, and leadership. Students had the chance to ask questions, engage in discussions, and to understand the workings of government. They also had a chance to learn about potential career opportunities, which is essential for their personal and professional growth. Haley Stoltz ’23 reflected on a meeting with Brian Vanderloemen, Director of Federal Affairs at SAS, sharing “I enjoyed learning about his job; it inspired me to learn more about local companies like SAS.”

Meeting with Avery Miller, Senior Producer of Face the Nation, was also a highlight of the class trip. Students learned about the role of the media in shaping political perspectives. Miller shared several valuable insights about careers in media, including that female anchors can be very successful because they demonstrate more empathy with guests. She also shared that asking questions that push back on a guest’s remarks are important because these questions try to touch on what questions the audience may have. Chelsea Coleman ’23 was inspired sharing, “Her story about she and a co-worker lobbying for a mommy-sharing arrangement so that she could have a work-life balance teaches us, as women, to be confident in voicing our needs in our future careers.”