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Cardinals Again Treat Students To Civics Matters D.C. Trip

Third annual excursion is in partnership with Close Up and Governor

Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill addresses the students Tuesday morning before they fly to Washington D.C. on the annual Civics Matters trip.
Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill addresses the students Tuesday morning before they fly to Washington D.C. on the annual Civics Matters trip.

Sariah Goodsell walked around the 24th Street Station platform at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport with a notebook and pen asking everybody in sight for autographs.

It was her way of documenting the start of the third annual Civics Matters Arizona program, and it was evident how much the trip would mean to the junior from Copper Canyon High School.

"This is my first time being on a plane, first time going to Washington," Goodsell said. "I love history. This is the biggest event that's happened to me ever."

In partnership with the Close Up Foundation and Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs, Civics Matters Arizona is a program launched by the Cardinals in 2022. Flying in style on the Cardinals team plane, 275 high school students from across the state travel to the nation's capital on an all-expenses-paid trip.

"We wanted to do something great with this airplane and we thought, 'How can we do that and inspire the youth at that same time?'" Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill said. "I think these kids are representative of the future and I think we, as people in positions that have a platform, can create an atmosphere where they learn and are inspired to do great things in their own lives."

Nearly 40 schools from 14 school districts were represented. As part of the application process for the trip, each student had to write an essay response about civics engagement initiatives.

Chrisangel Robles, a sophomore at Alta Vista High School, wrote his piece about how drugs can negatively impact the youth and his goal to eliminate the problem. His classmate, Ernesto Castelo, jotted down his thoughts on fundraising and the benefits of door-to-door campaigning. Goodsell, a member of the National Honor Society, shared how youth could help in the government.

Hobbs said a program like this is a great introduction to politics and community service efforts. When she was around a similar age, the Governor said she remembered listening to topics from the Secretary of State.

This week, these students will hear from many dignitaries while in D.C.

"They are going have a lot more exposure to national politics, and I think that's really great," Hobbs said. "They're the leaders that we need."

Through workshops and meetings with politicians, including Senator Mark Kelly and Congressman Juan Ciscomani, the students will have hands-on opportunities to make an impact.

That's why after two successful years, Bidwill, the Cardinals, the Close Up Foundation, and Hobbs hope to make it a trifecta.

"What I learned is that this really does make a difference for kids and it plants seeds in their head," Bidwill said. "When they come back in four days, they're going to be transformed and this group will be a unified group because they get very close."