From Orleans to Washington D.C.
By KRISTAN KORNS, Two Rivers Tribune
Teacher Kim Hyde and four of her students from Orleans Elementary School got the chance to watch history in the making, when they received tickets for the inauguration ceremonies of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
Hyde said, “For the rest of their lives they’re going to remember that they were in Washington D.C. for a presidential inauguration.”
The group from Orleans went as part of a Teaching American History (TAH) grant for Humboldt County, organized by McKinleyville High School AP History Teacher Jack Bareilles.
“This year, there was a busload of about 60 kids and chaperones from Humboldt County,” Hyde said.
Luther Scott said, “We drove through San Francisco and saw the Golden Gate Bridge.”
After that, it was on to the San Francisco Airport and for some of the students, their first ride in an airplane.
Clarissa Readen said, “It was my first airplane ride. At first it was scary. Me and Autumn and Josa were like, ‘Aaah!’ but once it took off it was like riding in a car.”
Their first stop after landing was the Civil War battlefield at Antietam Battlefield near Sharpsburg, Maryland.
Scott said, “They showed us the cornfield where they kept sending platoons through, and it changed hands 18 times in one day. It was the bloodiest part of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War.”
Hyde said, “This was to just give them some experience of history, and it takes it out of a book and puts it into a real context.”
The group also visited the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the National Archives, The Capital Mall, the Lincoln Memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and George Washington’s House.
Autumn Allgier said, “I really liked the Native American Museum at the Smithsonian. There were a lot of sculptures, and people were doing dances there.”
Readen said, “I liked Mt. Vernon. It was this whole thing about George Washington. You got to see his house and walk where he walked. There were people dressed like they were in the 1800s.”
Josa Talley said, “I really liked Mt. Vernon too. We went to watch a movie, and it started snowing fake snow, and every time there was a cannon shot, the whole room would shake.”
Hyde said, “One of my favorites is the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. You enter between these two granite monoliths that look like mountains, and you see MLK standing there, 60 feet tall, looking across the tidal basin towards the Jefferson Memorial.”
“And there are his quotes. The students get to see that our whole nation thinks these words are important,” Hyde said.
On their way to watch the inauguration, some of the students took their first ride on a subway system.
“I liked going on the Metro,” Talley said. “At first Clarissa and I were freaking out when it went into the tunnels, but then when we could see all of the buildings it was pretty cool.”
The kids also had to go through security checkpoints on the way.
Allgier said, “They had military people checking everyone as we got off the train, and when we got to our gate, they had metal detectors. Clarissa and Josa had to get scanned with a wand.”
Scott said, “They had dogs and everything, and there was a helicopter that just circled above us every few minutes.”
The group arrived a few hours early to find a spot, and by the time the ceremony started it was very crowded.
Allgier said, “We were getting smushed by the crowd when we were trying to leave.”
They also experienced some partisan politics first-hand while they were in Washington.
Readen said, “We were standing there waiting for the President and this one guy went one stage and everyone started booing. It was Paul Ryan. Then Jay-Z came out and everyone was cheering.”
Talley said, “It was pretty cool being in the same mile as the President and near so many famous people.”
Readen said, “We were in the Air and Space Museum after the inauguration, and then Autumn said, ‘Look at that sniper.’ He was outside and you could see him through the glass roof.”
“So I waved and said, ‘Hi Sniper,’ and he gave me the peace sign,” Readen said.