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Hays High delegation bound for D.C.

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

Abby Maska said she learns something new each time she visits the nation's capitol.

Maska, a teacher at her alma mater, hopes her students can have a similar experience on an upcoming trip.

The 2001 graduate of Hays High School also is excited to watch her dad's reactions.

Abby Maska -- who teaches government, history and other social studies classes at Hays High -- and Jeff Maska, her father, will serve as the adult sponsors for a four-day trip for 23 students that will include witnessing the inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama.

"She was looking for chaperones (for the trip) and asked if I wanted to go," said Jeff Maska, who, like most of the students, will be making his first trip to Washington.

Jeff Maska was a medical corpsman in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War era and knows several people who were killed.

"I'm really looking forward to seeing the Vietnam War memorial and looking up their names," he said.

"And, I think it will be fun to watch the students she's taking and see their reactions," he added.

Abby Maska said she was drawn to Washington from the first time she visited.

"I liked history and government, so it really changed my perspective when you can go and interact a little bit with history," she said.

Maska learned of the trip from WorldStrides, an educational student travel organization that has several offices across the country and is headquartered in Charlottesville, Va.

"I get a lot of promotional items like this," Maska said. "One day, someone from WorldStrides got ahold of me by phone, and I had the opportunity to listen to what they offered."

The more the representative talked, the more Maska listened.

"It seemed like too good of an opportunity to let pass by," she said.

So she checked it out and liked what she saw and started promoting the trip through her social studies classes.

"WorldStrides is incredible. They have done a lot of the work that can make planning a trip like that pretty crazy," she said. "I was able to touch base with them regularly, and they would keep me updated, kept track of payments and how many kids were signing up on line."

Another plus, she added, was that students and their parents were able to make payments on the $1,700 package for about a year.

Wichita-based KWCH-TV is going to meet with the Hays group in Washington and film a segment that will appear on its 6 p.m. news Monday.

"We've got a great itinerary," Maska said of the schedule that includes touring the Holocaust Memorial Museum, Arlington National Cemetery and several other memorials.

"I'm really excited to see the Martin Luther King Memorial since that is new since I've been there last," Maska said.

Most of all, Maska said she is looking forward to watching her students' reactions.

"I hope this will give life to some of the things we teach in the classroom to students," she said.