Students, faculty to attend inauguration

November 20, 2008 — by

No matter who wins the presidential election Nov. 4, January’s inauguration of either the first African-American president or the first female vice president to the White House promises to be a landmark moment in American history. Thirty-seven juniors and seniors and staff members, including Principal Jeff Anderson; history teachers Kim Anzalone, Mike Davey and Matt Torrens; English teacher Erick Rector; Video Production teacher Tony Palma; and Health teacher Amy Obenour, will be present in Washington, D.C., for five days to witness this historic event.

“I think this trip is an amazing opportunity to witness a huge part of history and be in D.C. when the next president of the United States is being sworn in,” said junior Natalie Tkalcevic, one of the students going.

Besides the inauguration on Jan. 20, a highlight of the trip will be the opportunity for four students to formally place a garland on a memorial for deceased U.S. soldiers.

“We’ve got four of our very own Saratoga Falcons delivering a wreath to the soldiers,” said Torrens. “I booked a year in advance to get that done.”

Aside from the wreath ceremony and the inauguration itself, students, who paid the $1,600 fee to go on the trip, will visit a variety of museums, including the International Spy Museum and the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum. Also, they will be able to view performances of the musical West Side Story at the National Theatre and the country’s longest-running comedic play Shear Madness at the Kennedy Center during the trip. Students who have learned about the nation’s capital in their history classes are also eager to visit historical landmarks during the several tours of the city Torrens has arranged.

“I’m just really looking forward to learning the history of the city,” said Tkalcevic.

Students’ political views will also shape their experience on a personal level.

“I’m crossing my fingers that it’s Barack Obama [being inaugurated],” said junior Maddy Renalds. “If not, my friend and I will be among the crowd of protesters of John McCain.”

With the financial crisis a hot-button issue for the presidential candidates, it is somewhat ironic that budget-motivated airline cutbacks resulted in the cancellations of three separate flights booked by Torrens for the inauguration trip. Flight problems were one of many logistical issues that presented themselves during the planning process. Torrens also had to deal with the Marriott Hotel not wanting to house students and rejecting the school’s reservation, although he was later able to arrange for accommodations elsewhere. These difficulties largely stemmed from the fact that SHS has never organized an inauguration trip before.

“We’re pioneers,” said Torrens of the trip. “Trailblazers.”

Despite the minor setbacks, Torrens thinks the trip will be a rousing success that will provide invaluable memories.

“The trip is going to be so much fun and there are great people going on it,” said Renalds, “so it will definitely be a week of fun and politics.”