Fifteen current and former Columbus East High School students will attend Monday’s inauguration for President Barack Obama.
Eager to be a part of history, the students and East social studies teacher Greg Lewis will fly early Saturday from Indianapolis and enjoy the atmosphere in Washington before settling in two days later at the National Mall, where they will watch Obama as he is sworn in for a second term in office at midday, which will be followed by his inaugural address.
Lewis said he arranged the trip partly because of the excitement that surrounds Obama as the nation’s first black president but also because the inauguration is a time-honored tradition that demonstrates the continuity of democracy.
“We spent a lot of time in class during the election season looking at the issues,” Lewis said. “I think history means the most to students when they can see the relevance.”
The students aren’t all from Lewis’ class. He said three are his current students, five are past students and five never attended his class at all. One, Anton Hopkins, a former intern for Columbus Mayor Kristen Brown, graduated last year but didn’t want to miss the chance.
Lewis said he put out a general invitation to all East students because he didn’t want to limit attendees to just his social studies class. Each student had to come up with $1,600 for airfare and other expenses for the four-day visit.
Students will tour sites along and near the National Mall, including the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Sept. 11 Pentagon Memorial.
Freshman Brittany Townsend, sophomores Nicholas Angle and Kylie Stattenfield, and juniors Braidon Martoccia and Vanessa Moir signed up for the trip for a variety of reasons.
All look forward to being part of the inauguration. But while Moir and Townsend consider that to be the highlight of the trip, Martoccia, Stattenfield and Angle can’t wait for the sights.
Martoccia said he wants to see the World War II Memorial, which he said he didn’t explore as much as he wanted when he visited Washington as an eighth-grader at Northside Middle School.
Angle looks forward to the general beauty of the nation’s capital. And he especially wants to see the National Cathedral.
Stattenfield, who went to Washington with her eighth-grade class at Central, said she didn’t get as much out of her previous trip as she wanted. Not everyone in her class was interested in history, she said, which made it distracting for hr and others.
This time, she will be with like-minded history and political-science lovers who will want to stop and explore the city in depth.
“It’s going to be something,” Lewis said.