Witnesses to history: SHS students, staff attend Inauguration

February 2013 Posted in School
Silverton was well represented at President Barack Obama’s  inauguration last month.

Silverton was well represented at President Barack Obama’s inauguration last month.

Twenty-two Silverton High School students and three chaperones enjoyed a whirlwind visit to Washington D.C., leaving on Jan. 17 and returning Jan. 23. During their stay, they visited with Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, attended the Inaugeration of President Barak Obama and the parade, visited historical sights and created lifelong memories.

The students who spent 16 months saving for the trip were Bitsie Appleton, Coleman Barth, Nicole Brandtjen, Morgan Coxen, Tabitha Gessford, Hannah Kintz, Kaitlin Kuenzi, Madisen Kuenzi, Miranda Leedham, Lydianne Metzger, Emily Pelletier, Kenneth Pike, Madeline Rackovan, Hannah Roth, Kobin Smith, Katie Spink, Monica Steele, Savannah Sully, Savannah Swartz, Myra Vazquez, Hank Will and Megan Willis.

The chaperones were SHS staff members Kirsten Barnes and Sue Fisher, and former staff member Colleen Heater. The group also got a chance to meet up with SHS math teacher Heather Bashor who was there serving with the Oregon Air National Guard.

The students returned to Silverton with aspirations to travel; some to work in D.C., and a new appreciation of their hometown.

“Although the places we saw and toured were amazing, just being in D.C. – our nation’s capital -– was one of the best things about this trip,”  Kaitlin Kuenzi said. “I thought it was really cool to experience the city life for a while, it makes me appreciate my own more.”

Here are some of the students’ thoughts on the trip, collected with Barnes’ help. Visit Our Town’s Facebook page for more.

Before we arrived, it didn’t seem real. Once I saw the lit up Capitol Building, it hit me. We were actually in Washington D.C. We were at one of the nation’s most historic places. This was where so many important men and women helped shape our history. I expected the trip to be eye opening and educational, and it far exceeded my expectations. It was also exciting, life changing, and so much fun.” 

Savannah Sully

Silverton High students and staff members had their photograph taken with Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.

Silverton High students and staff members had their photograph taken with Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.

Watching the Inauguration four years ago, I expected it to be a joyous event that was just like a big party. This was essentially how the day was in my eyes. Our section really bonded during the event and I had meaningful conversations with the people around me. Every place we went served as a lesson that I couldn’t have learned any other way. It was such a blessing to be able to go, certainly something I will never forget. 

Hank Will

The highlight for me was the Inauguration. Seeing the President, the First Lady and all of Congress made everything very real. You realize that these people aren’t just political leaders you see on TV. They are citizens who care about the future of America and its people. It was amazing to be involved in such a huge part of history. We were very lucky to be able to see it all take place right before us. 

Hannah Roth

“I did not vote for Mr. Obama. Yet he is the President of the United States of America and regardless of your political beliefs this is America and he is our leader. I felt like I was one of the few conservatives present. The crowd would cheer for the Democrat leaders and boo the Republicans. It was a trip that I felt accomplished the task of honoring and enjoying the history of our 44th president.” 

Morgan Coxen

“When we first showed up at the Inauguration of President Obama, I was  amazed at how many people were there. It showed to me there were many people, who like us, were willing to brave the cold and get up early to see and respect their President. While the President gave his speech, I felt a strong sense of unity in the crowd, I overheard people from Georgia, Virginia, Colorado and other parts of the U.S. coming together to celebrate their President. It showed what America is about.”

Kenneth Pike

“I was amazed at everything I saw. I was so excited the whole entire time and just couldn’t believe I was able to go to an amazing place and have this once in a lifetime opportunity. I feel more connected to my country now and I feel that you need to know your country’s history in order to be a true American. I learned more in- depth what our country is built on and I could only experience that feeling from going on this trip.

Nicole Brandtjen 

Math teacher called to Inauguration Day duty
Heather Bashor on the platform where President Barack Obama gave his second inaugural address.

Heather Bashor on the platform where President Barack Obama gave his second inaugural address.

A math teacher at Silverton High School, Heather Bashor received an unexpected phone call on Friday, Jan. 18.

“I was called to support the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington D.C.,” she said. “It was a whirlwind weekend and an unforgettable experience.”

In addition to her teaching duties, Bashor is a public affairs officer for the Oregon Air National Guard.

“Supporting the 57th  Presidential Inauguration  was an honor and being a part of the over 6,000 National Guardsmen from around the country who supported the event was a rewarding experience,” she wrote in an email to Our Town. “The National Guard has a proud tradition of supporting the event dating back to the first Presidential Inauguration of George Washington.”

Bashor was able to meet with the Silverton High School students who were visiting Washington D.C. and was part of the group when they met Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.  

Flying in a UH-72 Lakota helicopter, she had the “rare experience of an aerial tour of Washington D.C.”

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