Bay Area students head to inauguration

January 16, 2009 11:42:09 PM PST
It was difficult for some students at James Logan High School to concentrate in class Friday; 24 of them, along with other students from around the Bay Area, are flying to Washington D.C. to see the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.

"Just being able to see history being changed in the making, the first African American President," James Logan student Bill Quech said.

For the past 20 years James Logan teachers Alida Lombardi and Jeff Ustick have taken students to Washington as part of "Close Up," a national government and leadership program.

"I want them to see that it's possible to become a part of government, get a sense of why we can be proud of being Americans," Lombardi said.

Ustick said his students have never been this enthusiastic about politics.

"And when you talk about 15 and 16-year-olds having talks about politics and political issues that in itself is rewarding," Ustick said.

"I've seen a lot of people become more into politics that I've never seen before especially a lot of young people and that is really inspiring," James Logan student Victoria Santos said.

Some of the students have been to Washington before, but this trip will no doubt be special.

"Just seeing how it all works; I've never seen an inauguration before because I was 14-years-old last time, so I wasn't too into it, but this year it should be good," Valley Christian High School student Lauren Del Arroz said.

The students are well aware things will not come easy on Inauguration Day. They know hundreds of thousands of people will also be vying for a spot on the national mall in hopes of watching Obama take the oath of office.

But one group from Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose has a plan.

We're waking up at 3:30 in the morning for breakfast and we're going to bundle up as much as we can because we're used to California weather and then we're going to try and get out there and see if we can get a good look at Obama," Mitty student Alea Nalesnik said.

Most of these students do not know what they want to be when they grow up. Some, though, are open to public service. They are counting on Obama to provide some words of inspiration on Inauguration Day.

"It's really cool to see a leader like that; like when I see him, it would be nice to say speeches like him and to just hold myself to that kind of standard," James Logan student James Carvallyo said.

Shah Sadiq's family is from Fiji; they are inspired by the upcoming inauguration.

"Anybody in America has the opportunity to become what they want to be, no matter what race or what gender they are," Sadiq said.