Going to Washington

Published 10:40 pm Thursday, January 15, 2009

Selma High School students crammed into a second-floor classroom Thursday to discuss plans for a historic road trip.

Sunday night, the group will meet in front of the school, pack their luggage onto a chartered bus and begin a 12-hour ride to Washington D.C. to witness the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.

“I feel like it’s a life-changing experience,” said Lesia James. “I feel like everyone that attends the inauguration will be blessed knowing a change has come.”

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James teaches distance learning and sponsors the senior class at Selma High School. She will oversee the group of 28 students, along with the help of chaperones, including police Sgt. Tory Neely.

James organized fundraisers to help students pay the $300 fee, which includes transportation and hotel stay Monday and Tuesday nights. Some students also received donations, but James said all of them worked hard to be able to take part in this historic event.

Neely briefed the students on the itinerary and what to expect while in the city. Crowds numbering 6 to 7 million are expected for the inauguration, but Neely said it would be worth it.

“We can say we were there,” Neely said. “We just want to be a part of the event itself.”

Students were not concerned with the crowds, either. Even the threat of freezing cold winds whipping off the Potomac River could not quell their excitement.

“It’s something I never dreamed of,” said Chelsea Sturdivant, a senior in the Selma Early College Program.

Amber Stevens, also a senior at Selma High, said she feel privileged to take part in the event.

“It was my first time voting,” Stevens said of the presidential election, “and I actually get to experience the inauguration.”

The students don’t expect to get much sleep, despite an overnight bus ride. Stevens plans on singing her heart out the whole way there.

“Lots of celebrating on the bus, all the way there,” she said.

This will be the first time many students have ever been to the nation’s capital. However, Eric Roussell, a senior in the Selma Early College Program, has visited the city before. He is still excited to visit again. It has been quite a while since his last trip.

He hopes the Obama administration can improve the economy soon after taking office.

“I want to see a more stabilized economy, more jobs in general,” he said.

Darianne Allen, a senior at Selma High, said she believes the administration can improve the country.

“I think it was destined,” she said of Obama’s election.

Selma High Principal Wanda McCall said could not be more proud of her students.

“They will live history,” McCall said. “Maybe they’ll learn some history from the trip and bring it back to us.”

Superintendent Dr. Austin Obasohan said he knows the students will make Selma proud.

“I think it’s a remarkable experience for our youngsters,” Obasohan said. “I plan to meet with the students and pray with them; say goodbye and let them know how jealous I am that I haven’t had the chance to go with them.”