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Schnable in D.C. for Rural Electric Youth

In front of the White House ... Grace Schnabel participated in the 2008 Rural Electric Washington, D.C. Youth Tour given by West Central Electric Cooperative.

Grace Schnable was one of three area students selected for an all-expenses-paid tour of Washington, D.C.

South Dakota Rural Electric Association sponsored three local students on a six-day trip for the youth to experience the politics and sites of the nation's capital. Schnable is a senior at Philip High School and daughter of Doug and Nancy Thorson. She, Ben Stout of Kadoka, Faith Begay of Lower Brule, and 29 other South Dakota teenagers left the Sioux Falls airport on Friday, June 13. They returned home on Thursday, June 19.

"I've always wanted to go to Washington, D.C., to see the sites of the nation's capital," said Schnable, who won the essay contest that West Central Electric Cooperative used to determine its attendees. "My favorite place was George Washington's home of Mt. Vernon. I could spend all day there. It doesn't look old or like it was built however many years ago. It's huge. Washington himself designed it; its made out of wood but looks like stone."

The students represented 22 electric cooperatives from South Dakota. They were part of 1,500 youth from across the country in the 2008 Youth Tour. Schnable believes that over 35 other states' worth of youth stayed at her hotel. The state of Georgia had around 100 youth, while Hawaii had four. The South Dakota group shared their tour bus outings with youth from Nebraska.

"The tour of Washington D.C. was great," said Schnable, "but I don't want to live there. It was crazy. It's not like Philip where we can leave our cars unlocked. We were always a little worried of having something stolen or maybe even getting mugged. I hate security; we were always having our bags checked and some people had big belt buckles which would always ding the metal detectors. The Metro Subway has doors which don't re-open for hands or other things in the way like elevator doors do; one person got their bag caught in one. Our tour bus stalled for a while in the middle of the street and stopped traffic."

While there, Schnable's group crowded three at a time into the Senate observation deck for a few minutes each. The legislative topic was coincidentally on electricity.

An uncle of one of the South Dakota girls is a display coordinator at one of the Smithsonian museums. He escorted the group through the Native American Dresses exhibit. At the Holocaust Museum, Schnable said that her group spent two and a half hours there "and that was not enough time to see it all."

"Arlington Cemetery was interesting, but not my favorite place to go. We saw the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is guarded all the time," said Schnable. "Of all the memorials that we saw, I liked the Lincoln Memorial best, probably because it is so famous. It is interesting to see it in person rather than just in pictures. We could go to the top of the Washington Monument. The Ford Theater was being renovated, but we toured the Peterson House, where Abraham Lincoln actually died."

The boat used for a Potomac River tour had three levels that had dancing on each level. "Some of the dancing was a little crazy for me. I was on the very top deck and watched the view as we floated down the river," said Schnable.

Schnable tried different things while on the Youth Tour. Liking seafood, she tried calamari and thought, "Not bad." Some was sliced, but some was presented still looking like small squid.