The student voice of Perry High School

Students travel to Washington D.C. for inauguration

Every day, students across the country crack open a textbook and attempt to understand American government and politics. However, often times it is hard to really grasp the concept without seeing it for yourself.

Several juniors and seniors recently traveled to attend the Presidential inauguration in Washington D.C. on Jan. 20. The trip was sponsored by the Close-Up Foundation, allowing students from all around the country to spend a week in Washington D.C. to attend the inauguration along with being able to meet other students. The students visited a number of monuments and museums in D.C. including the African-American museum, Capitol building, and Holocaust Museum, along with several other famous historical sites.

The trip was planned in order for students to be able to attend the Presidential inauguration. Perry took 19 students to represent the school along with three chaperones. Close-Up had a detailed itinerary of places to go and events to attend but also allowed the students to have free days with their schools.

The students were able to meet and interact with Arizona’s state Senator Jeff Flake and his representative, Senator John McCain’s representative and Andy Biggs’s representative. The students were able to ask them questions and talk with politicians who directly affect their lives.

On the morning of the inauguration, the students arrived at the National Mall around eight and stayed through Donald Trump being sworn in, around noon.

Senior Madi Volker said that the inauguration had a huge impact on her life, regardless of her political standpoint. However, she felt a very different vibe than some others that went on the trip, explaining it was “hands down strangest experience of my life.” Volker said, “there was just a very disrespectful vibe and every time the Obamas or Hillary Clinton were shown on the big screen, there was a lot of booing.”

English teacher Cynthia Pino also attended the trip as a chaperone. She describes the experience of the inauguration, saying, “I saw very strong supporters of Trump, but at the same time I saw them hugely booing any face that was Democratic.”

Along with Volker, senior Sam Anguiano also had a more negative experience at the inauguration. Anguiano explained that him and a few other students were “yelled at during the inauguration for cheering when the Obama’s came on the screen. They told me to go back to Soviet Russia.”

On the other hand, senior Alexa Wilder explained the inauguration in a very different light. “The concert was really fun, there were a lot of artists there that I really like,” Wilder said. “The inauguration, I mean, you can’t really beat that.”

Along with the presidential inauguration, many of the students were able to witness the Women’s March. With over a million of men and women marching around Washington D.C., many of the students took this to have a huge impact on their lives.

“It was mostly from the Women’s March that I learned that we are more united than we think and that it is possible to use your voice for a good cause” said Volker.

Almost all of the students can agree that there was a different feeling between the inauguration and the Women’s March along with history teacher and chaperone, John Prothro, who described the vibe of the two events.

“It was outstanding to see democracy in action. Different students felt that in the atmosphere after the inauguration a kind of tenseness,” Prothro said. “Whereas, at the March, even though none of our students marched, they felt a feeling of freedom of fellowship and love in the air.”

The opportunity to experience this for themselves allowed students to form their own opinions.

“I think it’s so easy to just turn on the TV and believe what ever channel you watch and what their bias is” said Pino, “but when you get there, you see it all. I think kids for the first time might have even framed their own opinions.”

This trip gave students the opportunity to get away from what they know and are comfortable with to create their own political beliefs.

Junior Braxton Gibson experienced this, stating, “I think that overall, it gave me a new appreciation for a lot of the movements and history that people in our country went through, especially minorities.”

The trip enhanced students knowledge of government and politics, while also giving them the opportunity to see the heart of American democracy.
“Going to the inauguration is a big deal,” Principal Dan Serrano said. “I know they’re talking about making this an annual trip. I think if you’re interested in politics, this is a great trip.”

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