Students plan to see big event

Washington, D.C., trip, a year in making, centers on Obama inauguration

A group of students ranging in age from seniors to sophomores from Genesis Christian School will be attending the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., in January. From left to right are Tanya Taylor, Erin Lehr, Chris Blair, Jaylene McDaniel, CiCi Berry and Lizzy Feaster.

Cheryl DuCray wants her students to experience events rather than read about them as history in a textbook.

Seven high school students at the Quest Academy in Clifton will have the opportunity to do just that when they attend the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama on Jan. 20 in Washington, D.C.

At Quest Academy, a Christian school taught at Clifton Christian Church, students are more self-directed than at public schools and often graduate early, DuCray said. Students must maintain a 3.0 grade-point average and at least 85 percent attendance.

“I do a lot of educational trips for my students, at least one a year,” said DuCray, who is the director of the school.

“There’s so much history in the capital it will be much better than sitting in a classroom.”

DuCray said she took a group of 12 students to the inauguration of George W. Bush in 2000, which was the first such trip for the school. An educational travel group, Worldstrides, contacted DuCray a year and a half before the event to see if she was interested, she said.

This year was no exception.

The students began planning for the trip last January, well before either the Democratic or Republican parties had front-running candidates in the primaries, let alone an idea of who the students would see sworn in as the next commander in chief.

The trip costs about $1,700 per student, DuCray said, and the students have held fundraisers and worked many hours at part-time jobs to pay for the trip.

“It’s very exciting,” said Erin Lehr, a 16-year-old senior. “I did some fundraising with my family, but mostly I wanted to pay for this trip myself by working at my job.”

Since Obama was declared victorious on Election Day, DuCray said planning the trip has become “more interesting.”

About 500,000 attended Bush’s inauguration, she said. Worldstrides estimates 4 million will see Obama, the country’s first black president, sworn in and are asking student groups if they can share hotel rooms.

“We knew this was going to be historic no matter who won,” DuCray said. “But now that Obama won, people are like, ‘Really? You’re going?’ ”

Security will be tight, DuCray said, with the block surrounding the staging area blocked off with several checkpoints for the students to clear.

The group is also planning trips to see some of the other sights in the nation’s capital.


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