After winning the National Hockey League Championship in June, the Washington Capitals took home the Stanley Cup for the first time in the team’s 44-year history, causing a city that is used to athletic disappointment to erupt in celebration. The team brought home Washington’s first athletic championship since 1992, and the only Washington sports championship in the lifetime of the students at Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park, who on Dec. 11 had the opportunity to touch that iconic trophy when it visited their school.

Following the Capitals’ victory, each member of the team got to take the Stanley Cup for a day and bring it wherever they wanted. In its travels this year, it has visited Russia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Sweden, Canada, a cornfield in Minnesota, and now, Don Bosco Cristo Rey.

Raul Fernandez, one of the owners of the Capitals, said he brought the cup to the school because “there is no better place than a place where kids work so hard every day to show them how hard work pays off by bringing the cup here.”

Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park was founded in 2007 as a partnership between the Archdiocese of Washington, the Salesians of Don Bosco, and the Cristo Rey Network of schools to give students with limited financial resources the opportunity to receive a quality education and later attend college. All of the students who attend the school earn their tuition by participating in the school’s Corporate Work Study Program.

Fernandez said the students deserve the opportunity because “they are champions every day.”

As the students lined up for their opportunity to take a photo with the Stanley Cup, ninth grader Angel Rosales said, “It’s a great honor having it here at our school.”

For 10th grader Cody Johnson, who plays hockey, it was particularly exciting to get to touch the cup. He recalled how he was screaming at the top of his lungs as he watched the Capitals win the championship, and when it finally happened, he said he “couldn’t believe it.”

What he admires about the team, he said, is “how they can bounce back so easily after a loss” and how they “can keep their heads up and keep going.”

When Johnson made it to the front of the line of students, he wrapped his arms around the Stanley Cup in a big hug.

“I wish the players were here – I’d hug them too,” he said.

Salesian Father Mike Conway, the president of Don Bosco Cristo Rey, said he was glad the students were having the opportunity to be a part of the community’s celebration, and he hopes the students will be able to look back fondly on the day they got to touch the Stanley Cup for years to come.

Jessica Ventura, a tenth grader who works with the Capitals as a part of the Corporate Work Study Program, said, “I am so proud of where I work.”

During her time working there, she said she has seen how the community rallies around the team’s victories.

“I’ve learned that sports connects to a family,” said Ventura.

It means a lot to her to have the Stanley Cup come to her school, she said, because the Capitals’ victory shows the students that they can achieve anything they strive for.

“No matter who we are as low-income kids, we can achieve anything,” she said. “Bringing the cup here; it makes us feel that anything we want to achieve in this life is achievable.”