Students get ‘experience of a lifetime’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 2, 2005

The snowball fights, the &uot;cool&uot; restaurants, the moving sidewalk at the Cincinnati airport, the airplane ride, the snipers on every building, the three-story McDonalds with the talking trash can and of course, the inauguration of a president.

&uot;All of it. It was amazing,&uot; said Riverchase Middle School seventh grader Sally Baker.

Baker and 14 other students from RMS along with teachers Donna Thompson and Tommy Bailey attended the inauguration of President George W. Bush in Washington D.C. recently.

These representatives of Shelby County Schools arrived in Washington on Jan. 19, attended the inauguration on Jan. 20 and returned home Jan. 22.

&uot;(The students) were great and fascinated with all of it. I didn’t hear any complaints. They were up every morning – ready and eager to go,&uot; Thompson said. &uot;There were so many new experiences for them. And they were always so well-mannered. Several people said that to me. Really, they were good representatives for us.&uot;

Thompson said security in the nation’s capital was unprecedented.

&uot;(Security) was a little disheartening in some aspects; but we understood the reason – it’s really for the protection of all of us,&uot; she said. &uot;This was the first inauguration since 9-11. They handled it the best they could.&uot;

She said there were seven pat-down searches throughout the city; but &uot;(The students) got used to it. They knew what to do after awhile.&uot;

Seventh grader Tyler Lewis said he was fascinated by the security.

&uot;We had to wait for two hours to get through security that day,&uot; he said.

Thompson said following the inauguration ceremony, her group exited the security zone to have lunch.

Instead of going back through security, which would have taken another two hours, and missing a portion of the inaugural parade, the group decided to visit some of the museums in the nation’s capital.

Erin Holt and Brian Miller said a trip through the Holocaust Museum was something they would always remember.

&uot;That was a very emotional experience,&uot; Holt said.

The entire experience was one that her students will always remember, Thompson said.

&uot;Our tour director the night before the inauguration said they would block everything off at midnight on the 19th and then work all night Thursday night following the inauguration to have it back to normal, and it was on Friday morning,&uot; she said. &uot;That was especially fascinating to (the students).&uot;

The protestors were another factor her students found interesting, she said.

&uot;They had never seen anything like that,&uot; she said. &uot;But they handled it well. The comments shouted to soldiers (by some of the protestors) really bothered them.&uot;

Victor Cuicahua and Aditi Jani said the protestors were all over the place.

&uot;There were signs and they were protesting everything,&uot; Jani said. &uot;There was even a sign that said impeach now.&uot;

All in all, it was a great trip, according to teachers and students alike.

Jani said she would like to go back; but maybe &uot;in the summer or the spring so I can see the cherry trees.&uot;

Sixth graders on the trip were Sadie Foster, Logan Click and Brandi Hill. Seventh graders were Emily Rose, Eric Waybright, Andy Bridgewater, Brian Miller, Tyler Lewis, Victor Cuicahua, Erin Holt, Aditi Jani, Tyler Costley, Sally Baker and Brad Puckett. The only eighth grader to take the trip was Nikki Johnson