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Brian Charles: Front seats for history

Washington Journal: the Inauguration

Posted: January 14, 2009 10:15 p.m.
Updated: January 15, 2009 4:55 a.m.

B.C. goes to D.C.: Signal Staff Writer Brian Charles' Washington Journal continues in The Signal and on The-Signal.com. Join him on his journey to our nation's capital for the historic inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.

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Editor's note: Seventh in an exclusive series as Signal Staff Writer Brian Charles prepares to travel to Washington, D.C., to cover the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.

Students from Academy of the Canyons will witness history up close - real close.

The 36 Academy of the Canyon students headed to the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama will stand in the VIP section not far from where he will be sworn in. Congressman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-Santa Clarita) gave the school tickets to the VIP section in December.

"We will be a football field away," said Robert Walker, teacher and trip organizer.

All 36 students, their chaperones and parents met for the last pre-trip meeting Tuesday night. The students' excitement was only trumped by their parents' energy.

"I am very excited and kind of jealous," said Jan Cooper, 46, of Canyon Country, a school teacher and history enthusiast who wants her son to see government at work.

"I wanted Cody (her son) to see a wonderful experience, (and to) see our democracy and the smooth transition of power," she said.

Jan Cooper measured her words Tuesday night considering the history of our country. Parts of that history doesn't resonate with her son's generation, she said.

"They say, ‘What's the big deal about a black man becoming president?'" Cooper said.

"And that's a good thing - they are moving beyond race," said Jill Schenberger, Academy of the Canyons principal.

Cooper and her fellow parents are more than envious of their kids' inauguration trip. Parents are also proud of their kids' commitment to the political process.

"She was pretty engaged in the debates," said Debra Martin, 55, of Saugus, about her daughter Ashley Martin, who said she was impressed with Obama's stance on health care.

Ashley Martin stays involved in the political process, but the prospect of a trip to a presidential inauguration kept the 17-year-old student glued to the television, said Lance Martin, her father. "The inauguration made the process personal," he said.

Bob Johnson, 56, and his wife Sue, 54, both of Newhall, don't share the political views of their son, Nicholas Johnson. "(Nicholas) is more libertarian than I am," Bob Johnson said.

Nicholas Johnson's parents share his enthusiasm for the inauguration and politics, however. "It's exciting. And I'm so pleased he has his own opinion," Sue Johnson said.

This is Jayme Allmson's 15th trip to Washington as a chaperone for students, but it's her first inauguration. Allmson, 50, of Castaic, teaches at Placerita Junior High School and volunteered as a chaperone right after Walker announced the trip in April.

"First I thought I could help make it happen and I get to do this history thing," Allmson said. Before Allmson could participate in history, she needed to get permission from her niece, Olivia Allmson, a 17-year-old student at Academy of the Canyons, who is also headed to the inauguration.

"At first I didn't want her to go," Olivia Allmson said. "Now I realize I get a chance to share this with history."

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