BODE - More than 1.9 million people attended the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama on Jan. 20, and among the crowd that day were 24 students, teachers and chaperones representing Twin River Valley High School.
Out of the group of 24 TRV representatives, 17 were junior and senior American history or government students of Dean Bostian, who had been following Obama's campaign and election through current event discussions in their classes.
"We offered the trip to juniors and seniors," said Bostian. "I wanted the students to be able to experience the historic event firsthand. I really think we've started a tradition for every four years."
The group flew to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 18, where they joined groups of students from Arkansas and Colorado staying in the same hotel for bus tours and sightseeing. In the days before the inauguration, the groups visited the World War II, Korean, and Vietnam War memorials, Holocaust Museum, Arlington National Cemetery, George Washington's plantation at Mount Vernon, and several Smithsonian museums.
"All of those spots were interesting to see," said Bostian. "It allowed the kids to incorporate a lot of what they have learned over the years in with the trip."
On the day of the inauguration, the group was up before the sun, leaving their hotel at 5 a.m. to stake out the best possible spot in Washington's National Mall area to view the swearing in ceremony. To avoid the heavy traffic, they braved the cold temperatures and walked to the inauguration site. With traffic being rerouted for security reasons, the walk from the hotel, which was around a mile, was closer to three miles.
"It was an early day," said junior Valorie Stolzenberger. "But it was a great opportunity to be able to say I was there and saw history in the making."
"There was a lot of security everywhere," senior Justin Seifried said. "You could see the marksmen on top of several buildings. The inauguration was an amazing, once in a lifetime opportunity to see."
Security for the inauguration was extremely tight, checking everyone thoroughly as they entered the mall area.
"They took some of our group aside for having basketball pins on their coats," said junior Megan Lathrop.
The group secured a spot near the middle of the crowd, about halfway between the Capitol and the Washington Monument, Bostain said.
"It was crowded, everyone stood close together," he said. "We were right near one of the big screens so we had a good view. Following the ceremony, people were going in every direction, so everyone had to make sure we stayed together."
"We held onto hands so we wouldn't lose anyone in the crowd," said Stolzenberger.
Bostian said he was impressed at the closeness of the combined group from the time they arrived in Washington.
"There were so many people and everyone was living close together, so they all made new friends," said Bostian. "It brought kids from different backgrounds and cultures together. They stayed close and looked out for one another. It really brought out the best in our students."
Contact Emilie Nelson at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org