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Morning Sun
  • PHS students leave for inauguration

  • Fifteen Pittsburg High School students, escorted by social science teacher Gary Wolgamott, left Friday on the first leg of their journey to President Barack Obama’s inauguration Monday in Washington, D.C.

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  • Fifteen Pittsburg High School students, escorted by social science teacher Gary Wolgamott, left Friday on the first leg of their journey to President Barack Obama’s inauguration Monday in Washington, D.C.
    They piled aboard a school bus at 5 p.m. and headed for a motel near Kansas City International Airport. However, they won’t be spending much time at the motel.
    “We’ll have to shuttle to the airport at 4:30 a.m.,” Wolgamott told the students. “We want to have plenty of time to go through security.”
    He also warned the students to be sure they had their photo IDs with them, to carry their name tags with them at all times and to let him know immediately if they had any concerns.
    “My mission, besides watching the inauguration, is to make it back to Pittsburg with all of you and with no more gray hair than I already have,” Wolgamott said.
    The teacher is sure, though, that everything will be fine. WorldStrides, the student travel organization that invited the students to go to Washington, D.C., will have a representative meet them at the airport when they arrive.
    “They will be with us throughout the program and we’ll have security with us at all times,” Wolgamott said.
    That should allow him to relax just a little and enjoy the trip along with the students. Of course, the experience will also be highly educational.
    “This trip will help me teach about the inner workings of our national government at a better level,” Wolgamott said.
    The PHS group will begin a tour of the nation’s capital as soon as it arrives.
    “We’ll be seeing the Jefferson Monument, the Washington Monument, Lincoln Monument, World War II Monument, all the monuments,” said student Kevin McNay. “We’ll see the Capitol, the White House, Ford’s Theater and the house where Lincoln died, the Library of Congress, National Archives and Arlington National Cemetery. And it’s all going to be walking.”
    He expects to be tired but fascinated.
    “I’ve always loved history, and seeing a president be sworn in is part of history,” McNay said. “Why not be part of something I love?”
    Student Joseph Mathew is looking forward to the inauguration, of course, but said he is especially excited to be visiting the National Archives and Library of Congress.
    “Having this experience is great,” he said. “I’m glad to see this many people interested in going.”
    The families of students had to come up with the cost of the trip, which was $1,700 per person.
    “For a lot of  these students, this will probably be their only opportunity to do something like this,” Wolgamott said.
    Page 2 of 2 - The teacher doesn’t expect that the students will have the best seats at the inauguration, if they have an chance to sit down at all.
    “We’ll be on the Mall and we should be able to see the ceremony, but it will be so far away that we wouldn’t be able to make out much detail,” Wolgamott said. “We’ll probably be watching it on a giant TV screen.”
    The group will head back on Tuesday with souvenirs and memories.
    “This really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” McNay said. “We’ll be there when history is being made. I was in Washington, D.C. before, when Encore and the Presbyterian Choir performed at Kennedy Center, but I was too young then appreciate it. Now I have the knowledge to fully appreciate the history.”
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