For $8.50 each, up to 270 schoolchildren can watch Barack Obama inaugurated as president at Chunky's Cinema Pub in Haverhill next Tuesday.
Northern Essex Community College will show the 44th president's speech live on its Lawrence and Haverhill campuses, and professors will be around for discussions afterward.
And children at Haverhill's Nettle School will get red, white and blue Tootsie Rolls.
Past inaugurations have been merely a footnote in history for most. But anticipation is mounting for Tuesday's inauguration, which begins at 11:30 a.m.
People will see the first African-American to be sworn in as commander in chief. They will see a Democrat take back the West Wing after eight years of Republican rule. They will bid farewell to President George W. Bush, whose popularity plummeted while the country waged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the economy sank.
"Certainly there's an awareness and an excitement around this inauguration that I haven't seen before. And there's a feeling from the adults and the students of somehow being connected to it — that we're all a part of it," said Eric Juli, director of secondary curriculum for Lawrence public schools.
Clare Curran, teen reference librarian at Andover's Memorial Hall Library, expects 40 12- to 18-year-olds to show up for a free party after school from 3 to 5 p.m. They'll have presidential trivia and bingo, with prizes like patriotic rubber ducks and Tootsie Rolls wrapped in American flags.
"We're going to have flags and snacks and a festive sort of atmosphere," said Curran.
Chunky's, a Haverhill movie theater that offers full meals, will show the inauguration live on all three of its big screens. Vice President Jimmy Nagel said the company e-mailed between 600 and 900 teachers around the region, inviting them to take a field trip there for the event. For $8.50, students can watch history unfold while sipping soda and eating pizza and ice cream. Nagel did not have a list of schools that responded to the invitation earlier this week.
Phillips Academy in Andover will shorten its periods to give students time to watch the inauguration.
"This year's inauguration is of particular significance to the younger generation of voters, who came out in record numbers in many states and contributed to Obama's campaign in one way or another," senior Andrew Pohly, co-head of the Model United Nations Club and captain of the football team at the boarding school, said in an e-mail. "In shortening our class periods, students will be able to watch the inauguration and celebrate the actions and achievements of young people — the same people who will keep a close eye on the presidency, awaiting any improvements in their lives."
Merrimack College in North Andover will broadcast the inauguration around campus. Quotes from past presidents' inaugural speeches will be displayed on school grounds and "patriotic" food will be dished up in the Crossroads Cafe, according to spokeswoman Heather Notaro.
Nettle Middle School in Haverhill will have guest speakers and members of the parent-teacher organization will distribute red, white and blue Tootsie Rolls.
Haverhill High School social studies teachers are designing lessons to go along with the event. Students in social studies teacher Anthony Parolisi's class at Consentino Middle School wrote patriotic songs this week and displayed them on posters in the hallway.
Educators in Methuen said youngsters there can identify with Obama because he comes from a mixed racial background.
"They feel so much a part of what's going on," said Timony Grammar School Principal Judy Scannell. "Everything — their vocabulary words, reading pieces — have involved Obama, Kennedy, Lincoln and Martin Luther King."
"They're all pumped for Obama and have been from the start," said Lisa Young, a fifth-grade teacher at Timony. "I think they hear that he would like to bring a lot of programs to schools. I think that they like that he has young kids their age. They can identify with him. He's not like any other president that we've had."
"I don't think they see Barack Obama as the first black president, they just see him as a good man that is offering us hope and changes," said Diane Haidar, a second-grade teacher at Timony.
Juli said past swearing-in ceremonies felt like "there was an inauguration happening around us," but this one is creating a buzz.
"A guiding question across our campus related to that is, 'What's the significance of having a minority in the White House?' That's really important in our school community, given the high Hispanic population here," Juli said.
Tuesday is the first day of the new semester at Northern Essex Community College, and officials there hope students will find time to watch the speech.
"This is a moment that our students and community shouldn't be missing," said Sue Grolnic, dean of the college's division of humanities and social sciences.
Staff writer Mike LaBella contributed to this report.
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