Students get into the spirit during inauguration ceremony for President Barack Obama on Tues. photo by Tom Wearing.
January 21, 2009
ALMONT — While an estimated two million people witnessed Barack Obama's inauguration speech in the nation's capitol, about three-dozen students gathered in the high school library to watch the event on television.
Many of them watched at the invitation of government teacher Dennis Wysinski who says the recent election and inauguration have been the source of much discussion.
"We've really been talking about this since the first day of school," Wysinski says. "It's on the minds of the kids."
Most of the students' eyes were transfixed on the screen during the swearing-in ceremony. Others smiled and quietly joked among themselves, seemingly unaffected by the historical significance of seeing America's first black president take the Oath of Office.
The group of mostly seniors generally expressed hope that an Obama presidency can effectively work toward resolving the ubiquitous challenges facing the country. Optimism, however, was not shared among all of the students.
Melissa Wilber, 17, is enthusiastic that the new president can accomplish some of the goals he put forth during his campaign.
"It's exciting that we now have our first African-American president," she says. "I think a lot of people feel it's going to be a new start for our country. I think this will help people of many ethnicities come together."
Senior Ben Strouse is hopeful that President Obama can help bring some of the change he promised on the campaign trail.
"I think it's a big step," he says. "I think we all need to step up and change the way things are right now."
Elizabeth Murto, 17, alternately glanced up toward the screen while thumbing through the pages of a novel. She is less confident that the new president can deliver on his message.
"My thoughts are that we need to put a little more faith than into just one man," says Murto. "A lot of people expect more than what is going to come.
"I'm hoping the economy will get better so money won't be so much of an issue," she continues. "I think he (Obama) has an interesting perspective, but maybe not the experience to do the things necessary."