Rowan students, others going to inauguration
SALISBURY — As President Barack Obama takes his second oath of office Monday morning, at least 30 people from Rowan County will be there to witness it.
This morning, 22 students and four teachers from Carson High School are traveling to Washington, D.C. They will not only see the presidential inauguration during the four-day field trip, but also tour the capital city’s museums, memorials and monuments.
Amie Williams, who teaches civics and U.S. history at Carson, organized the trip. She said she got a call from a group called World Strides asking if she wanted to take students to Washington for the inauguration.
“An inauguration is once every four years,” Williams said. “I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for my kids.”
Williams herself went to Obama’s first inauguration four years ago, and she wanted her students to have the same opportunity.
“This is not your average D.C. trip,” Williams said. “No one can ever truly experience what the kids are about to experience ever again. ... They can watch it on TV or talk about it, but they get to be there. They’ll never forget this trip years later.”
She said she put up posters and held parent meetings to get the word out.
Principal Kelly Withers then contacted U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, who secured 26 tickets to reserve a spot at the inaugural ceremony for everyone who signed up.
“It’s an amazing opportunity, and it’s something I’ve never done. It’s a great opportunity for our kids to see, not only just to visit Washington, D.C., but to be there during the inauguration is a totally different experience. It’s an amazing opportunity for them or any American citizen or otherwise to be able to witness.”
Williams said many of the students, and two of the adults, have never been to the nation’s capital before.
That includes Daniel Schenk, a Rockwell resident and a senior at Carson, who said his main reason for signing up is to see the museums and attractions in Washington.
He said he also appreciates the opportunity to see Monday’s ceremony.
“How many other high school seniors can say they went to an inauguration?” Schenk said. “It’s going to be really unique and exciting.”
Lucas Safrit, of Salisbury, a junior at Carson, found out about the trip last year in Williams’ contemporary studies class.
He said he has been to Washington before, but this trip will be different. And the fact that Safrit is a Republican and the president is a Democrat won’t lessen the experience, he said.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican, Democrat or Independent, going to see the political process is a moving thing,” Safrit said. “Everybody sees it on TV, but that’s just not the same. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Safrit said he wants to thank Williams for organizing the trip and Hudson for giving the students tickets.
Hudson is working with the school to coordinate a time for the Congressman to meet the students and take a picture. In an emailed statement Friday, he said it was his pleasure to provide tickets.
“I’m always excited to give young people the opportunity to participate in civic affairs and show them firsthand how our government works,” Hudson wrote. “I’m sure it will be an experience that they’ll remember for years.”
Others with Rowan roots will be going to the inauguration as well.
Ben Fisher, who was born in Salisbury and serves as a U.S. Coast Guard reservist, will march in the inaugural parade at 2:30 p.m. Monday.
His unit was chosen to represent the Coast Guard in the parade, Fisher said, because it just returned this summer from a 6-month deployment in the Middle East. He didn’t join them overseas because he went to a different training school.
Port Security Unit 305, based out of Fort Eustis, Va., will be staying at a base in Washington for a few days.
“I’m very excited about it,” Fisher said. “It’s an honor to be able to represent the entire service, to represent the military as a whole and to be part of an event that’s bigger than yourself.”
Fisher is a Salisbury High School graduate who now lives in Wilmington, where he attends Cape Fear Academy.
Sarah Bolick, a Salisbury native and West Rowan High School graduate, got tickets to Monday’s inauguration through her boyfriend, who worked for the Obama campaign as a field organizer.
The two also will attend a ball on Tuesday for all of the field organizers and volunteers that worked for the campaign.
“I think it’s an amazing opportunity that’s probably once in lifetime,” Bolick said. “I’m really, really excited.”
Bolick, now lives in Chicago, where she attends both the Lutheran School of Theology and the University of Chicago.
Those who don’t get the chance to attend presidential inauguration in person can watch it live on a big screen Monday at the Salisbury Civic Center, 315 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. S.
Fibrant, the city’s high-speed broadband utility, is providing service to the civic center for the Salisbury-Rowan Human Relations Council’s celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The broadcast will begin around 11:30 a.m., when the ceremony is set to start, and continue for about an hour.
After the president’s speech ends, a showcase of local entertainment will begin. Poets and writers will take the stage at 1:15 p.m. Live music, including a performance by the Brass Connection Band, will be featured from 2 to 4 p.m.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.