Inauguration and education

January 15, 2009 2:57:14 PM PST
No need to keep the kids home from school on Tuesday if you want to make sure they see the historic inauguration of Barack Obama. Many schools across the country are marking the day on campus, with live broadcasts, assemblies, in-class assignments and their own inaugural balls. Some are even sending groups of students to Washington, D.C. to see the inauguration for the first time.

"It's a terrific opportunity for schools to share in the excitement that the rest of the country is feeling," said Nina Senatore, assistant professor of education at Simmons College in Boston.

Here's a sample of what schools across the country are doing.

Mesquite Elementary School, Casa Grande, Ariz.

Three-hundred third-, fourth- and fifth-graders will assemble to hear portions of inauguration speeches from the likes (their classmates in dress) of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and John F. Kennedy.

"I really want them to know that our president has a vision, a plan in place to lead this country," said principal David Owen, adding he'll time the assembly to when he can get a copy of Obama's speech. "I want there to be a connection with the past and the future."

Ed White Middle School, Huntsville, Ala.

Paris Fuller, 12, got a lesson in dining etiquette recently as one of 30 students traveling to Washington, D.C. for the inauguration, where students will attend a formal dinner.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance," said the seventh-grader. "Not a lot of other people get to go. It's very exciting for me."

Back in Huntsville, the school is planning a program with musical selections, a motivational speaker and a dance, says principal Lynette Alexander. Students will watch the ceremony in their classrooms. She says Obama will be discussed in all of their classes.

Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, Conn.

Gary Rose, political science chairmna, is taking a group of students to the inauguration for the seventh time. He usually charters one bus of 50 students. This year, he's chartering two, and there's a waiting list.

"I have never seen such interest," said Rose, who announced the trip in September. "Normally it takes me around two months to fill the bus. This year, the first bus filled in eight days."

William H. Brazier Elementary School, Mobile, Ala.

The school will host a morning program for the 280 students. A pastor from a local church will give a motivational speech, a student will present a biography of Obama, and each grade level will perform a poem or a patriotic song. The school will have a dance in the afternoon.

"We want them to know the significance," says principal Veronica Coleman, adding that her school is 100 percent black and 99 percent of students are on reduced or free lunch. "Today marks a historical event that goes to show no matter what your circumstance, you can achieve."

CIVA Charter School, Colorado Springs, Colo.

CIVA is using the inauguration to highlight the history of race relations. Students, mostly in 11th and 12th grades, will make presentations about the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education case, Rosa Parks and the Little Rock 9 in a Tuesday morning program. The school plans to show the inauguration on the big screen.

"I really hope the students understand how far we have come and feel wonderful optimism regarding the future of more equality," says principal Randy Zimmerman.

Tidewater Community College, Norfolk, Va.

The college is showing a live Webcast of the inauguration in its downtown theater -- the TCC Roper Performing Arts Center, says spokeswoman Laurie White. The Roper is a restored 1926 Loew's Theatre that seats up to 800. Political science and history professors will lead an informal discussion after the swearing-in. On TCC's four campuses, with 40,000 students, televisions will broadcast the inauguration.

Hathaway Brown School, Shaker Heights, Ohio

The all-girls K-12 school will have continuous viewing of the inauguration throughout the entire school, including the dining hall, classrooms and the auditorium. In the atrium, the school will serve a flag-shaped cake. Students and teachers will be able to write their thoughts in a scrapbook about what the day means to them.

Texas Woman's University, Denton, Texas

TWU has several inauguration events to go with the first day of classes, including watch parties, cake and punch in the Student Union, and a red, white and blue-themed menu in the main dining hall, according to spokeswoman Amanda Simpson. The school will have visuals of past inaugural addresses, and reflection boards, where students can write down their comments about why the day is important to them.

                   Political blogs | Politics main page | RSS feeds
              Slideshow archive | ABC13 wireless | Help solve crimes