Craig Middle School teacher Courtney Jenison fondly remembers her experience as an eighth-grader, laying a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.
"Everything about the trip was great, getting to lay the wreath, it was just fantastic," Jenison said.
Jenison now organizes an essay contest called, "We See D.C.," in which students compete to place a wreath during an upcoming trip. Jenison will chaperone the trip to the nation's capital, which 38 students will attend from June 4 to 9.
"The students needed to write on the subject of why it would be an honor for them to lay the wreath on the tomb," Jenison said.
Moffat County High School freshman Stephanie Balderston, sophomore Lindsay Browning and CMS eighth-graders Brodie Schulze and Ryan Gerber won the essay contest, which was judged by CMS faculty.
"I wrote about how relatives like my grandpa were in the military, in Korea, Vietnam, World War II, and that my aunt got to lay the wreath when she was in eighth grade," Schulze said.
Gerber's essay explored the same themes as Schulze's: "I have relatives that served as far back as the Civil War all the way up to Iraq, where I had a cousin who died last year," he said.
With a hefty $1,500 price tag for the six-day visit, the four contest winners have to do serious fundraising to make the trip a possibility.
"We did one fundraiser selling McDonald's tickets, but I mostly just worked," Browning said.
Both Schulze and Gerber said they found local businesses to sponsor them.
"My grandma also made a quilt, and I raffled it off, and I did a lot of mowing lawns and shoveling sidewalks," Gerber said.
Two of the winners have never traveled farther east than Denver International Airport, and the students couldn't be more excited to honor fallen military heroes and experience the country's most historical landmarks.
"Laying the wreath will be a great honor. I'm so excited to see everything out there," Browning said.