Neshoba Central Middle School Junior Beta Club with U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper at the U.S. Capitol.
Neshoba Central Middle School Junior Beta Club with U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper at the U.S. Capitol.
Neshoba Central Middle School Student Cole Cheatham got to go onto the floor of the United States House of Representatives with Congressman Gregg Harper earlier this summer.

"It was an experience of a lifetime for some of those students," said Junior Beta Club sponsor Tammy Burk, one of the sponsors of the trip to the national convention.

"I'm 50 years old and had never been to D.C. Some of the students will never have this opportunity again."

A group about 30 of Neshoba students traveled 906 miles along the East Coast from Philadelphia to Washington, D. C. and found a great history lesson waiting for them at the end.

The students attended the National Junior Beta Convention in Richmond, Va., then toured the nation's capital.

Accompanied by adults, the group attended the national convention from June 20-24 before making the hour-and-a-half trip to Washington, D.C., where they spent four days touring.

Among the highlights of their trip was a personal tour of the capitol hosted by Rep. Gregg Harper.

Back in Richmond, Cheatham ended a term as National Junior Chaplain and Cody Wilson won a first-place award in the woodworking competition.

Asher Morgan made it into the top 10 in the speech competition, while Alex Bowen competed in the essay competition.

State Chaplain Abby Seale also ran unsuccessfully for National Chaplain.

Cheatham soaked up everything he could during the trip. He said he experienced "a lot of cool things" while in the Capitol.

"It was a very good trip," he said. "I got to go down on the floor with Gregg Harper and he explained a lot of things to me.

"I also got to meet Treasurer of the United States Rosa Rios, so that was really cool."

During the convention, Cheatham said he had a lot of fun, especially being the National Junior Chaplain at the event.

"I enjoyed my reign as National Chaplain," he said. "I hated to give it up, but I met a lot of new people in Virginia."

Burk said the group made the most of their trip. The convention was the initial reason for visiting Richmond, but being so close to Washington, D.C., Burk said it was an opportunity they couldn't pass up.

Among the places they visited during their weeklong trip included the famous Hollywood and Arlington cemeteries in Richmond and Arlington respectively.

Burk said the trip to Hollywood Cemetery was exponentially more special for one student, who happened to have a relative buried in the cemetery. Members visited his monument.

Hollywood Cemetery was designed in 1847 by the noted architect, John Notman of Philadelphia, Pa. and has been operating as a cemetery in Richmond since 1849.

Hollywood serves as the final resting place of two American presidents, six Virginia governors, two Supreme Court justices, 22 Confederate generals, and thousands of Confederate soldiers. Its status on the National Register of Historic Places recognizes its importance to the nation.

The Beta group also had an opportunity to see a reenactment of Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty, or give me death" speech, one of the most influential moments in the Revolutionary War. Even with the history lessons, Burk said the memories shared would be the most important part of the trip.

"It was not only an educational trip, but also a trip of a lifetime, in my opinion," Burk said.

After her experience, Burk said visiting the nation's capital is something she would absolutely do again.

"I think every person ought to go to D.C.," she said. "It's truly incredible."

As for Cheatham, he agreed that Washington, D.C. is a fantastic place to visit, but would maybe prefer a different method of transportation next time.

"Riding the bus all the way through the night was rough," he said. "But the history of everything was great."