MOUNT VERNON — To say that Mount Vernon eighth-graders are excited about their upcoming trip to Washington, D.C., is an understatement. They are “pumped,” as student Avery Baldwin put it.
He said the roughly 200 students, and the chaperones, who are going on the trip are really looking forward to being at a historic occasion — the inauguration of Barack Obama as president of the United States.
“I’m excited,” Avery said. “I think it’s going to be really fun with all the students. And I think it will be really cool to see the inauguration. And we’re planning to see some cool museums and stuff. So, yeah, I’m excited.”
He said it really doesn’t matter to the students which candidate is going to be sworn in. Any of the other possible inaugurations this year would have been historic: First woman president or first female vice president.
“It’s cool just to go,” Avery said, “whatever political party you are in. It’s just cool to go see it on such a special day.”
Alyssa Crow, also an eighth-grader, said students raised the money for the trip by selling flowers in the spring, and holding a sort of magazine sale in the fall and a dance in December. She said they got a good response from community members.
“People really wanted to help, and they were willing to help,” said Alyssa. “I think it’s going to be a great experience and I think it’s really cool that this is basically a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I think it’s really awesome that we get to do that.”
Both students said it was “really cool” that the school offered the opportunity. Besides the inauguration, Avery is looking forward to just walking around D.C. and taking a “cool cruise.” Alyssa said she has always wanted to see the White House.
Middle School principal Bill White said that although the trip was made available to all eighth-graders, not all eight-graders chose to participate. Those 100 or so students who aren’t going will attend school as usual on Tuesday. They will be going through their regular schedule with their teachers, White said, but the teachers will be focusing on inaugural activities.
They will also have assignments similar to those of the students visiting the Smithsonian museums on Monday.
“We’ll have packets for students to complete in the Smithsonians,” White said. “Depending on which museum they go into, there will be certain things they’ll need to look for and information they’ll have to gather. It will be fun, but it will also be educational for them. The students who are left behind will be looking on the Internet at the Smithsonian and taking a virtual tour.”
In addition to the fundraisers, White said the middle school is lucky to have such a supportive community and especially fortunate that Ariel Corp. was very generous and made a sizeable donation to help with scholarships for the trip.
“Students were allowed to apply for a scholarship, and that helped out some of those students who may not have otherwise had a chance to go,” he said.
Everything on the trip is paid for with the one fee, and students need no extra money unless they want to buy souvenirs or other items.
Since the inaugeration is a historical event, White anticipates there will be many more people than usual in Washington, D.C.
“It is going to be quite crowded,” he said, “and probably going to mean longer lines for us, and longer waits. It will be worth it. It’s the idea that you can say, ‘I was there.’”