Cooperstown ninth- through 12th- graders will hop onto a bus Friday to go join millions in Washington D.C. to experience history in the making.
Forty-six students will leave at 5 a.m. for the inauguration of President Barack Obama for his second term. It marks the third time Cooperstown Central School has provided the opportunity through WorldStrides, an educational student travel company.
“It is an excellent company. We have also used it to for our travels to Italy and China. The tour guides are always very thorough and provide great tours,” said high school social studies teacher Jennifer Pindar, who has planned all three trips.
Pindar said she feels the experience provides a very educational and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the inauguration firsthand.
“I want to students to learn more about government and the history of our country,” she said. “I also want the students to become lifelong voters.”
While in Washington, students will get to partake in the WorldStrides Inaugural Dance, tour the former home of first president George Washington, visit the Holocaust Museum, tour the Smithsonian Complex, gather at the Capitol Mall for the inauguration ceremonies, watch the inaugural parade, go to The Newseum and be able see several other monuments and historical sites.
Cooperstown senior Liam Heneghan said he is excited about the opportunity to be able to immerse himself into a new scene.
“I have never really associated myself with politics much and it could be an important part of our history,” he said.
Heneghan said he is particularly looking forward to the inauguration ceremony, but is also eager to visit the Holocaust Museum.
“I think that is something everyone should experience at least once in their life,” he said. “I am fortunate to be able to do it while I am young.”
Sophomore Christina Noto said she has been to the nation’s capital before, but never for an event of this magnitude.
“It is going to be exciting to see the president sworn in, and to be able to do so at such a young age is so wonderful,” she said.
She said although the ceremony will be the highlight of the trip, she is looking forward to the dance and visiting the different sites and museums.
Pindar said she decided to take students again because the past trips have been so successful.
“This will probably be one of the biggest historical moments that will happen during these students’ lifetimes,” she said.
According to Pindar, an estimated 500,000 to 800,000 people are expected to attend this year’s event.
An estimated 1.8 million people attended the 2009 inauguration for Obama’s first term. That was more than the previous record of 1.6 million who came to see Dwight D. Eisenhower sworn in.
Pindar was not able to purchase tickets to the inauguration ceremony in 2009 because the demand for tickets. Students were able to watch the swearing-in ceremony from a non-ticketed viewing area however.
The ceremony, which includes the swearing-in of the president and vice president as well as the Presidential Inaugural Address, will be held at 11:30 a.m. Monday, Jan 21.
The purpose of the address is to outline the political values that will govern the country while also recognizing the requirements and limitations of being the president. The tradition was started by the country’s first president, George Washington, who made a short speech after the oath of office was administered.
Nearly every president has followed suit, except for the five who entered office under unusual circumstances. In 1997, President Clinton was the first to have his address broadcast over the Internet for the entire world to see.
Students are expected to be back in Cooperstown at about midnight on Monday, Jan 21.