Monterey, CA – In the days before the Presidential Inauguration, Kevin Brookhouser began incorporating the event into his class work. "I'd like you to spend a little time writing a letter to our President-elect Obama," he told his students as they settled into their desks. Brookhouser teaches history at York School, a grade 8 to 12 private school in Monterey. He says he often uses current events to keep his students engaged, "history does not exist in a vacuum and if it's taught in a way where you're just looking at the events of the past, I know I'm going to lose my students. So what I'm constantly trying to do is trying to make that history relevant to the world that they're living in today."
Today the whole school will watch as President-elect Barack Obama is sworn into office. They'll also be keeping a close eye on the crowd, hoping to catch a glimpse of the 14 York students and one teacher who are in Washington D.C. at the event.
The group doesn't have tickets, so they'll be among those watching on the giant screens on the Mall. "I think at that point you're just standing with people who are there to be excited for the event and it doesn't really matter how close you are," said Sean Raymond, the group's teacher and chaperone.
The trip has been in the works for more than a year with most students signing on before the election, including York Senior Thomas Morgan. "I think regardless of who is the President, McCain, Obama, Bush that we all owe our support to the Commander and Chief and to see anyone of them inaugurated is truly an historic thing," he said.
Through this experience, the students will be learning about the process of becoming President. For Senior Cassandra Block, that began on Election Day when she voted for the first time and cast her ballot for the President-elect. "Yeah I feel like I'm really part of the whole journey there," she said.
Their whole journey to the Inauguration is going to be documented by one student. Junior Sam Aarons will be twittering, which means he'll post short, real-time messages on twitter-dot-com. "I'll have my phone with me and whenever we go to places, museums, the Inauguration, I'll be twittering updates. So like I'll say getting on the plane, getting on the bus, you know, watching Obama get Inaugurated. And I can take pictures, have them upload to the internet and they can see them at school in real time," said Aarons.
Back at York, Aarons' fellow students will be keeping track of his messages as the watch the Inauguration.