Columbus High students head to inauguration

Alvin Dysick already has been to Washington and President Barack Obama already has been inaugurated once, so why would this Columbus High freshman willingly arrive in the school's parking lot Saturday at 4:30 a.m. for a trip to the nation's capital?

"Not only do I get to miss a whole week of school," he said, "but I also get to experience a piece of history most people won't ever get to do."

Alvin is among the school's 44 students, three teachers and one administrator who will be in the crowd on the National Mall to witness Obama's second inauguration.

"Even though it's not as historic as the first one, it's still exciting," said sophomore Azina Doyle. "To see the ceremony in person and to go to all the historic places on our trip, it's like a lifetime experience that I don't think I'll ever have the chance to do this again."

For freshman Reames Clark, attending the inauguration is "like going to the Super Bowl instead of watching it on TV."

Wendy Highnote, an Advanced Placement human geography and psychology teacher, also was in Washington four years ago with another group of Columbus High students when Obama became the nation's first black president. She explained why she would return again.

"The kids were so engaged from the beginning to the end last time," she said. "That's the fun part of teaching, when you get kids excited about what they're learning. To see it all take place right in front of them, they just get supercharged.

" The kids who were freshmen on that trip graduated last year, and they were still talking about that trip."

Last time, the Columbus High group went to Williamsburg, Va., after the inauguration and sightseeing in Washington. This time the itinerary includes three nights in Washington and two nights in New York City.

Among the stops around Washington will be the Smithsonian museums, the famous memorials, Arlington National Cemetery, Mount Vernon, the U.S. Capitol building, the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress.

In New York, the schedule includes visits to Rockefeller Center, Times Square, Greenwich Village, SoHo, Chinatown, Little Italy, the World Trade Center site, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Central Park. Hurricane Sandy's damage to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island means the group will see those attractions only from the Staten Island Ferry.

Beyond the tourist stuff, Reames is eager to "see all the street vendors and the life around New York."

Azina is looking forward to the cold weather, with temperatures expected to drop into the 20s but with no snow in the forecast. "I just hope it doesn't rain."

And besides taking a warm winter coat, Alvin is bringing a bit of wisdom for the trip that promises lots of waiting along with wowing: "To get things in life, you have to be patient."