Students busy, but thrilled to see history
Though hotels are packed, transportation is a nightmare and she only slept three hours Saturday night, Phoebe Norwood, 14, is still excited for the next few whirlwind days of events leading up to President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration.
“It’s crazy,” she said at 11 p.m. Washington time Sunday as students were being loaded onto buses to be shuttled back to hotel rooms. Norwood and more than 7,000 other students from around the globe were headed back from Sunday’s opening ceremonies, an event at which she could barely see the stage positioned so far back from the National Mall.
Another full day packed with speakers and events starts all over with breakfast bright and early at 6:30 a.m. today.
“I’m going to have to ask my mom if I can sleep Thursday, just to catch up,” Norwood said.
Norwood and Nick Stubler, also 14, students at Fruita 8-9 School, are attending the Presidential Youth Inaugural Conference because of their participation last summer in a leadership event.
The high schoolers, and Mesa State College student Courtney Gibbon, 22, are three of the 240,000 people carrying color-coded tickets to the events.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, history in the making,” Gibbon said with excitement evident in her voice, before heading out of town.
Gibbon is a senior at Mesa State College, majoring in science mathematics with a statistics concentration and writing her senior thesis on polling statistics.
Nearly a year ago, she decided she would make the trip to Washington, D.C., after receiving an invitation from the University Presidential Inaugural Conference. It was sent to her because she is a distinguished alumni of a youth leadership conference she attended during her time at Fruita Monument High School.
Stubler said he’s not sure how far he will take his interest in politics, but for now he is participating in student senate.
On Saturday, the three flew to Washington, D.C., to meet with other Inaugural Scholars from throughout the country who are attending the elaborate ceremonies surrounding the swearing-in of the president and vice president.
Gibbon, Stubler and Norwood listened to guest speakers Gen. Colin Powell and Desmond Tutu. They also will attend balls, head to museums and watch the parade.
“I’m super excited,” Stubler said while still in the Grand Valley. “I really, really liked Barack Obama. ... It’s a pretty big part of history.”
On Sunday night, Norwood said the best part of the hustle and bustle is meeting with students from around the world, such as Africa, New Zealand and China.
By LORY POUNDER
Special to The Daily Sentinel
Staff writer Amy Hamilton contributed to this report.