Saturday, Jan. 17, 2009 | 3:41 p.m.
As Henderson middle school students were awaiting the end of final exams Friday, a select group was anticipating something even greater.
Thirty-seven students from Jack and Terry Mannion Middle School and one from Bob Miller Middle School were headed to the inauguration Tuesday of President-elect Barack Obama.
While the trip to Washington, D.C., will be a new experience for many of the students, Mannion librarian Jackie Welch-Doubek has made attending inaugurations a tradition. She had also arranged for students to visit the capital for George W. Bush’s two inaugurals, Principal David Erbach said.
“It’s a pretty popular trip,” Erbach said. “It’s a great opportunity to see history in the making.”
Preparations for the trip began about a year ago, Assistant Principal Rene Calman said. Welch-Doubek reserved tickets through government officials and set up an itinerary with a touring company.
“She has it down pat and had us well organized,” Calman said.
With students leaving Jan. 16 and returning Jan. 22, Erbach said, the trip will encompass a host of learning opportunities.
“I think there is so much history, and they get a sense of what America’s all about,” Erbach said. “The event itself is always historical, and this year’s seems very much so.”
Welch-Doubek has also received special clearance for students to visit the Pentagon, and students are hoping to get a picture with Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev. They will also see historic Williamsburg and Jamestown, as well as a variety of memorials and museums.
Meanwhile, Bob Miller student Benjamin Schlichting will attend the Junior Presidential Youth Inaugural Conference, which seeks to provide scholars with a deeper understanding of the history behind the electoral process as well as the traditions surrounding the inauguration.
The trip will be an invaluable lesson for all of the students, Calman said.
“It puts everything into perspective,” Calman said. “You hear about the monuments and Congress and Senate, but it hits you hard once you’re there. It’s like a ‘wow’ moment. A lot of these kids do not realize what our nation has gone through to give them the freedoms and rights that they have.”