METHUEN — A few dozen high school seniors took a trip to Washington a couple weeks ago to witness history.
The schedule for 37 seniors and two chaperones was packed with monuments and museums, something social studies teacher Timothy Osgood said was history outside the history books.
But there was another big draw in DC that weekend: A president was being sworn into office.
“Any presidential inauguration is crucial because it represents so much to the American people,” said senior Emily West Geary. “Plus it was President Obama on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day and that made it so much more special.”
Osgood said he rousted the teenagers at 4 a.m. Jan. 21 to jump on a bus and find a spot on the National Mall for the inauguration. They walked more than a mile to the Mall and picked out a spot to wait.
“We got there probably at 6 and we played cards until they started around 12,” said senior Jeffrey Letourneau. By then, the crowd had filled out, and they were too far away to see the people on the Capitol steps. But there were large screens and speakers set up, so they could see what was happening.
The students said the jostling and waking up before dawn to stand in the cold was worth it. “It was a once in a lifetime thing,” he said.
Aside from the benefit of visiting a new place, and the seat of the nation’s government, Osgood said the lesson for the kids was that historic events continue to happen and can be accessible to people.
“I think they learned that history doesn’t happen in Methuen High School in a textbook,” he said. “Seeing the inauguration brought that home. They witnessed history in the making. There’s a whole world of history, and this opened their eyes to how everyday it is.”
Osgood said the high school has not had a trip to Washington in years, and the excitement generated some interest in underclassmen.
“I tried to gauge interest with the juniors, and several said they would definitely go (if another trip were planned),” he said.
Aside from the inauguration, the group toured museums like the Holocaust Museum, many of the monuments around the city and visited the White House, the Capitol and the Supreme Court.
“Seeing the sacrifices our country has made through its history and the deeds and perseverance to get where we are, it gave me a lot of pride as an American,” West Geary said. “That was the viewpoint of a lot of students. It was important to get out of our little town in Massachusetts to see the cemetery and the monuments and the dedication of the people in our past.”
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