St. Andrew Nativity School students traveled across the country to attend the Ignatian Family Teach-In For Justice in Washington, D.C., in November.

It was the fourth annual trip to the teach-in for eighth graders from the tuition-free middle school in Northeast Portland. Students have the chance to apply for the trip in the spring of their seventh grade year. They are selected based on their application essays, GPA and overall school attendance.

The Ignatian Family Teach-In is a gathering opportunity for members of the Ignatian family — Jesuit institutions and the larger church. It is primarily attended by high school and college students, and Nativity pairs up with Portland’s Jesuit High School to attend. This year students listened to three keynote speakers and seven Ignatian network speakers. They also had the option to break out into more than 40 different sessions.

On the last day, participants went to Capitol Hill to advocate for social justice policies.

“This trip is truly an amazing opportunity for Nativity students,” said Erin Boniface, a science and math instructor who coordinates and chaperones the annual trek. “For many of them, it’s their first time on an airplane, and on top of that they get to experience the other side of the country for an educational weekend.”

In addition to attending the teach-In, students visited museums and monuments around Washington. Eighth graders reported that this year their overall favorite was the African American History Museum. Students also had the opportunity to meet Earl Blumenauer, the U.S. representative for Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District, and Ron Wyden, the senior U.S. senator for Oregon.