The Lanesboro senior class of 2013 stopped to have a photo taken in front of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.  PHOTO COURTESY OF MEGAN KIEHNE
The Lanesboro senior class of 2013 stopped to have a photo taken in front of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. PHOTO COURTESY OF MEGAN KIEHNE
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Early on April 3, 2013, 19 seniors and three chaperones from Lanesboro High School embarked on a trip taking them back in time while also reminding them of their future.

The annual senior class trip through Hawkeye Stages left at 4:30 a.m. that April morning and took its riders to several historic sites. At the same time, the small group was able to bond with each other throughout the eight-day trip.

After departing from the high school, the group made its way to Chicago where they were able to ride an elevator up to floor 103 in the Willis Tower. While there, they were also able to visit Millenium Park and see many of the other sites in the city.

In the same day, they continued on through Indiana and visited Notre Dame University before stopping in Maumee, Ohio, for the first evening.

Their main tour guide throughout the trip, Dave Zimmer, made sure the time spent on the bus did not go to waste. Class member Kirsten Ruen shared that she could understand why their trip is supported by the school because of how much they learn on the trip.

"Every time we were on the bus, we were learning about an event in history," she said.

The first couple days on the bus were spent learning much about the United States' war history, especially the Battle of Gettysburg. The class arrived in Gettysburg on their second day and were able go through a day tour on the famous battlefield.

According to members of the class, perhaps the most memorable moment at Gettysburg was the night walk they took through the battlefield.

Class treasurer Megan Kiehne shared she thought the walk was surprisingly calming. After walking through a portion of the battlefield, Zimmer had everyone gather around for some telling of ghost stories. The class also joined Zimmer, who played his harmonica, and sang "Amazing Grace."

The following morning, the class did one last tour of parts of the battlefield they hadn't seen yet with an engaging historian named Phil Cole. Two members of the class were taken aside, dressed up in Union and Confederate uniforms and later surprised the rest of the group.

Following Gettysburg, the class made its way into historic Harper's Ferry which sits at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers.

"It was probably my favorite part of the trip because of how old it was and we got to spend a lot of time there," shared class member Kirsten Lawstuen.

Back on the bus, the group traveled along the Blue Ridge Mountains and celebrated this by singing a variety of folk tunes. "The class got really into singing," shared Ruen. "We always sang 'On the Road Again' after we got back on the bus."

The students stayed the night in Charlottesville, Va. The next day they toured the mansion and grounds at Monticello, President Thomas Jefferson's home. They then made their way into historic Williamsburg and spent some time touring the old part of town.

That evening, class members got their colonial dancing shoes on and enjoyed an evening of learning traditional dance at the Governor's mansion in Williamsburg. The following morning, the group went back to Williamsburg from their hotel and spent it touring the rest of the town and shopping for colonial souvenirs.

Moving on toward their ultimate destination of Washington, D.C., the group made a stop at Quantico, the home of the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

Senior class President Mike Holst, who had been to D.C. some time before the trip, said the experience of visiting Washington, D.C., was a lot different being with his classmates instead of his family. "I saw some different things and got to spend more time in places I hadn't gone before."

He and his classmates really enjoyed a night tour they received of the city. Name any monument and the Lanesboro students probably saw it. While taking in the Lincoln Memorial, Ruen said she went off to the side and found a vantage where she could see most of the city. "It really made you feel small," she shared.

The impressive sights included the cherry blossom trees, which were in full bloom at the time the group was in the city.

Despite the amount of information they took in and places the group saw, Holst said the trip didn't feel rushed. "We were able to slow down and take it all in," he shared.

Witnessing more cultural diversity was another thing the group appreciated. However, the students were once again reminded that it is a small world as they met up with Lanesboro alumnus Chelsey Redalen who works for the Pork Producers lobby and were able to pick her brain about working in D.C.

The most meaningful part of the trip for members of the senior class was the opportunity they had to grow closer to each of their classmates.

"It's hard to explain, but you learn more about the class when you go on this trip," shared Kiehne. "You realize the equality of people and that we are very similar."

Since the group was small, they were able to spend more one-on-one time with others and get to see a different side of people they knew.

One evening in D.C. was spent on a dinner cruise where everyone danced. Another afternoon was spent at Arlington National Cemetery where four class members were able to present a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with the rest of their class looking on.

Holst said he was surprised how emotional the ceremony was for him and his classmates. "It was touching. I didn't expect the emotion from myself."

Seniors who wanted to have the opportunity to present the wreath had to write an essay on why they wanted to do it. Holst, Ruen, Sydney Johnson and Ashley Bue were able to present and lay the wreath.

"I thought it would be an honor and it was so much more," shared Ruen. "A lot goes through your head. You think about the people who don't come home and everything they've done to keep our freedom."

John Smith, the class advisor said the experiences are very important for the students. "It's great to see kids in different environments and to see them enjoy themselves. You get a little closer on this trip."

Perhaps the biggest shock of the trip at that time wasn't all the new places the class was seeing, but the temperature, which climbed up into the 90s. "It didn't rain a single day we were on the trip until on our way back," Kiehne said. When the group returned to Minnesota, they were greeted by sleet.

The annual trip is made possible through efforts made by the students and their advisors. The class had been raising money for their trip since their junior year, when they worked concession stands at sporting events. They also sold magazines and raffle tickets, held a breakfast, and ran a silent auction.

They suggested that upcoming students take an initiative to save money for the trip because it's worth it. However, according to the group, one cannot put a price on the experiences they had.

Kiehne shared, "I would pack my bags to go again."

Since it was one of the last group activities the senior class will ever experience together, this sentiment is probably shared by many Lanesboro seniors who had a trip they will remember for a while.