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OFA students able to enjoy D.C. over Columbus Day weekend despite shutdown

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Ogdensburg Free Academy students visiting the nation’s capital over the Columbus Day weekend were able to see the sights despite the federal government shutdown that was still in full effect.

“We did things we hadn’t done before, partly because of the shutdown,” Washington, D.C., trip coordinator Fiona L. Hopkins said.

Nearly 60 people, including 49 students in eighth and ninth grades and several chaperones, were part of the tour.

While the Smithsonian Institution and monuments maintained by the federal government were out of bounds this time around Ms. Hopkins said the tour company World Strides was flexible and accommodating.

Instead of the Smithsonian students visited the Newseum, International Spy Museum, Crime and Punishment Museum, the Peterson House Museum where President Abraham Lincoln died following being shot at Ford’s Theater and Madame Tussauds Wax Museum.

Students also toured the Pentagon 9/11 and Air Force Memorials and were able to get close to the Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, and the WWI, WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War Memorials.

Even though many of the monuments were closed, George H. Snyder, high school social studies teacher and one of the chaperones on the trip, said the police where lenient and students were able to get up close so long as they didn’t hop any fences.

“The only thing you really couldn’t do was go up to the actual monument of Lincoln and Jefferson,” Mr. Snyder said.

Mr. Snyder said students were also able to visit the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial where they traced the name of Trooper Shawn W. Snow who was electrocuted on the Ogdensburg International Bridge in 2008 while assisting a fire truck with a flat tire.

Another addition to this year’s tour that came about thanks to the federal government shutdown was meeting with Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, who granted students access to the Capitol.

“It was a really good learning experience,” Mr. Snyder said, noting that students were able to watch the House of Representatives debate part of the Farm Bill and get a taste of how Congress functions.

Students also met with John Cardinal, an aide to U.S. Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y. and graduate of OFA, who gave them a tour of the Russell Senate Office Building and the Kennedy Caucus Room where President John F. Kennedy announced his candidacy for the presidency.

“The kids were great,” Mr. Snyder said. “It was a jammed packed trip.”

Students left early Friday morning and returned to Ogdensburg early on Columbus Day.

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