The Mustang Youth Team planned to attend the CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America) Conference in Washington D.C. It’s an annual meeting of young people promoting drug-free schools and hometowns.
Things didn’t go exactly as planned but the trip was still a success.
“Ultimately I had to make a decision when it came to CADCA,” said the group’s advisor, Tina Gallagher. “They changed the rules after we purchased over $5,000 in tickets by requiring that all attendees be vaccinated against Covid. I didn’t feel comfortable asking the kids because some were and some weren’t. To me, it’s a choice for their parents and themselves.”
“They have no control over the world we are living in today and I decided to still take them,” she added. “They are looking forward to a CADCA conference in Florida this summer that will have fewer restrictions.”
That left the MYT plenty of time for sightseeing. When they got back to Lovelock on Friday, their president, Miya Gallagher, had advice for anyone contemplating the trip.
“Make sure you bring comfortable shoes because most things are walking distance and you’ll do a lot of walking. Also, make sure you have a camera with lots of storage. There are so many things you’ll want to take pictures of,” she said.
The MYT members photographed each stop – including Hunter Nolf’s favorite, the Library of Congress. It’s one of the largest libraries in the world, housed in three buildings on Capitol Hill.
“I mostly liked walking around just seeing new things,” he said.
They rode an elevator to the top of the Washington Monument. Later, they stopped by the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.
“The Jefferson Memorial was bigger than I expected. It was amazing to see all the work put into small details,” said Lexie Portillo, the MYT vice president.
They also visited the Holocaust Museum.
“I learned about things that happened during the Holocaust that I never knew of before. It shocks me that there is still more stuff that happened during that period we don’t know about,” said Anna Happy, the MYT secretary.
Tina Gallagher also shared her thoughts about the museum.
“It was eye-opening for all of us. We of course knew things about the Holocaust but seeing actual pictures and artifacts was unreal. We all learned new things and it made us want to learn more. We didn’t realize how horrific the Holocaust was or how much we didn’t know.”
Last month a Tennessee school district banned the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel Maus, by Art Spiegelman. The book depicts Jews as mice and Nazis as cats to tell the story of the author’s relationship with his father, a Holocaust survivor. The MYT hadn’t heard about the book. “They want to read it now though,” says Gallagher.
“They’ve worked hard for two years,” she added. “They do so much fundraising and participate in many classes to provide peer-to-peer education. The DC trip was a way to reward them for all the hard work they’ve done.”