Class raises $20,000 for trip to Washington DC for presidential inauguration and gets a shocking surprise.
They’ve been working for the last year, selling candy bars,
bowling for pledges, hitting up parents, relatives and friends.
After all, who can resist high school students wishing for the
once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing the inauguration of the first-ever African-American
When the chocolate dust settled, the class had earned
$20,000 – enough to get the class of 37 students and four advisor/chaperones
across the country and booked into a hotel an hour’s drive from the nation’s
The teens were willing to stand with fellow Americans,
expected to number at least a million, on the Capitol Mall just to be there
when it happened. What a great story to
tell their friends – and their grandchildren.
Monday morning, they had a guest speaker in class –
Congressman Buck McKeon – who had heard
about their efforts to attend the big event.
“I read a newspaper story about a class who worked hard to
raise money because they wanted to go to the inauguration,” McKeon said. “They
didn’t know who the president was going to be, but they believed it was
important enough to go back to Washington.
I wanted to meet those kids, their teacher and principal.”
The congressman regaled them with tales of previous
inaugurations, as well as stories about the Revolutionary War and General
George Washington’s fight to get supplies for freezing troops at Valley
While making the point of how cold it gets in Washington in
January, he brought the subject back around to the privilege he and other
members of Congress have, of having a reserved space so they only have to stand
outside for an hour before the ceremonies.
That was when he dropped the bombshell.
These students weren’t going to be standing a mile away
watching a monitor alongside the reflecting pool.
They were getting 41 tickets, a precious portion of McKeon’s 250 allotted ducats, usually given
to friends or political allies, to be part of the gallery of 250,000 invited
The class was momentarily stunned, the realization slowly
dawning on their faces and burst out in wide smiles. They were clearly
experiencing shock and awe.
“Are they always this quiet?” McKeon quipped to teacher
Finally, a student raised his hand and thanked McKeon for
Each student received a letter inviting them to Washington,
which McKeon promised to personally sign when they visit his office in the Rayburn
Building next to the Capitol. That
visit is scheduled for Jan. 19. In the meantime, the students will be packing
their cold weather clothing for the trip of a lifetime, thanks to one Washington
insider with a soft spot for determination.