January 17, 2009
Homer kids going to inauguration
Teachers organize group of about 40 students to attend historic event
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
From left, Mary and Bob Kelly of Homer talk about the upcoming trip to the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C. with their son Jonathan, 12, after a planning meeting Thursday at Homer Junior High School.
HOMER — About 40 students from Homer Junior High School won’t be watching Barack Obama’s swearing-in ceremony from a television set or computer screen.
Instead, the group will be flying to the nation’s capital on Sunday to watch the inaugural festivities with millions of other people on the National Mall.
Homer teachers Cassie Shurtleff, Kim Butts and Stefanie Liebowitz said they wanted to take students to George Bush’s 2004 inauguration but they did not start organizing a trip in time.
About a year ago, they started signing up students for the trip and raising money through holding school dances and selling baked goods.
“We just wanted students to have the opportunity to witness history,” Shurtleff said. “It’s something they won’t forget.”
Jonathan Kelly, 12, of Homer said he plans to wear a black suit with a red tie because of the inauguration’s historical significance and the importance of the election.
Most of the 40 students and eight adults on the trip will be wearing jeans, hats and mittens, with weather forecasters calling for 35-degree temperatures in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
Shurtleff said the group plans to leave their Annapolis, Md., hotel around 5 a.m. and will ride a bus, driven by the tour group Smithsonian Student Travel, into the city.
The students will spend about six hours watching the inaugural parade and ceremony from one of the large screens placed on the National Mall for the millions of people who didn’t get one of the 240,000 tickets to watch the event from the grounds near the Capitol Building.
“Where exactly we’ll be on the National Mall will depend on when we actually leave and traffic,” Shurtleff added.
Erin Corsi, 12, of Homer said she expected the event to be very crowded but was still hoping to catch a glimpse of the country’s first black president.
Diane Corsi said she told her daughter Erin to take a lot of pictures, including some of just the people around her.
“I’m pretty jealous that (Erin) has the opportunity to go,” Corsi said. “I’ll just be watching on television.”
Andrew Snogles, 13, of Homer, said he followed the election for several months and could not believe it is so near.
“It’ll probably be pretty hectic in D.C.,” Snogles said. “I’m hoping no one gets lost.”
After the ceremony, Shurtleff said the students will go to a dance near their hotel in Annapolis with other students touring with Smithsonian Student Travel.
The students might even have their pictures taken with life-sized, cardboard cutouts of Obama and vice president-elect Joseph Biden at the dance.
“I’m sure it’d look just like the real thing,” Shurtleff said, laughing.
In addition to the inauguration, the group will be seeing other Washington landmarks, including the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the Washington Monument.
“The inauguration is a big part of the trip, but we will be doing other things, too,” Shurtleff said.
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