WASHINGTON, D.C. | Tacarra Holden didn’t mind the fact that her legs were aching Monday as President Barack Obama appeared on the Capitol’s steps to take his oath and speak.
Holden, 18, of Gary, stood on her toes anyway to try and catch a glimpse of Obama’s ceremony.
The Lew Wallace Science Technology Engineering Mathematics Academy senior was one of seven local high school students chosen to go to the inauguration with the Barden Gary Foundation.
“All I wanted to do was just to look at him,” she said. “And then I thought, ‘Wow. I’m actually hearing him in person.’”
Jarrell Springfield felt inspired as he watched Obama speak.
Springfield, 19, is a senior at Calumet High School and voted for the first time in November.
“It was a great experience to see him speak,” he said. “I mean I voted for him and my grandparents voted, too, but they didn’t get to see this and this will never happen again because it’s his second term.”
Teneia Martin, 18, knew she was witnessing a historic event. The Thea Bowman Academy senior said she appreciated Obama for asking people to come together to help one another.
While the other students also appreciated that they were able to witness the presidential oath, there were other parts of the weeklong trip that left lasting impressions.
West Side Leadership Academy senior Laurielle McFerson, 18, said being able to stand in the exact spot where Martin Luther King Jr. stood while he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech was the most moving thing she had done in D.C.
Lew Wallace senior Denisha Golston, 18, liked seeing the Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorial.
Brytnie Jones, 18, said she enjoyed visiting Howard University because she hopes to go there for college in the fall.
Jones, a Wirt-Emerson Visual and Performing Arts Academy senior, has been accepted to several schools, but Howard is her first choice.
Marcus Lloyd, 17, said his favorite part of the trip was learning about Congress. Lloyd, a senior at Thea Bowman, also liked participating in many of the events because it’s something he will never forget.
“I’ll appreciate (inaugurations in the future) because I came here,” he said. “I’ll be able to say, ‘I was part of that. I was a part of history, of something huge.'”
The students also were looking forward to events for the rest of their trip, including meeting U.S. Rep Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, and visiting the Library of Congress.
The students’ trip was sponsored by the Barden Gary Foundation Scholarship Program and a donation from the Bridgette Kelly Foundation.
The seven students selected for the trip won an essay contest discussing making impossible challenges possible. Each student proposed a project to help better the Gary community. The projects will be presented in April.