United in respect: Silverton High students visit D.C., attend inauguration

January 2017 Posted in School

By Kristine Thomas

Teacher Kirsten Barnes organized a trip to Washington D.C. for Silverton High students. They were able to attend the inauguration and visit historical sights. The students are standing before the inaugural stage in front of the U.S. Capitol.

Teacher Kirsten Barnes organized a trip to Washington D.C. for Silverton High students. They were able to attend the inauguration and visit historical sights. The students are standing before the inaugural stage in front of the U.S. Capitol.

They could easily have been divided by political parties, or political preferences, or by peer groups are at school.

Instead the 15 Silverton High School students who spent a week in Washington D.C. touring historical sights and attending the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump were united in celebrating “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” and seeing firsthand the history of their country.

For many of the students it was their first visit to Washington D.C. While there they met U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon and U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch from Utah; attended a symphony at the Kennedy Center; and visited the Smithsonian American History Museum, Ford’s Theater, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the Pentagon 9-11 Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Library of Congress, U.S. Holocaust Museum, and other sights.

The highlight of the trip was attending the inauguration.  “We didn’t want this trip to be a political trip,” said teacher Kirsten Barnes who teaches history and organized the trip. “Our focus was on the history and celebrating the peaceful transition of power.”

A Trump supporter, Jared Johnson agrees the trip was about celebrating the country’s history. He encourages those who didn’t support Trump to stop expecting he is going to do “bad things for the country.” Too many people, he added, are focused on the negative. “Nothing good can come out of expecting the new leader to do bad,” he said.

Several of the students said it was amazing to see the places they have studied about in U.S. History class and to witness the peaceful changing of power.

A fan of the musical Hamilton, Natalie Muller appreciated visiting a city “full of history.”
She said she didn’t support Trump for president, however Jessica Lundquist did.
“Spending time there helped broaden our views,” Muller said. “During the inauguration, I started crying and Jessica was standing behind me and put her hard on my arm and told me “it’s OK.” I will remember that forever. It proves it doesn’t matter what you believe in, that people will still support you.”

What surprised Rosie Riley was when people booed or yelled negative words when Democrat leaders were announced such as Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York. She and her classmates thought regardless of political ideology everyone should be treated respectful at the historical ceremony.

“I was taught that even though you disagree with someone that you should respect their views and what they stand for,” Riley said.

Barnes shared how when people in their section at the inauguration started booing, others started clapping louder to drown them out. She noticed how the students paid attention to what was happening and what was being said at the inauguration. A highlight for Taylor Jones was meeting Sen. Wyden.

“He shared with us that his goal was to play for the NBA and that didn’t work out,” Jones said. “He said he set out for one thing and ended up in the opposite direction. He told us when one plan fails, that Plan B could be better than the first one.”

Barnes said the students enjoyed the jovial exchange between Wyden, a Democrat, and Hatch, a Republican, who were both delighted to see the students and talked with them for about 30 minutes.

Lundquist said the inauguration was not what she expected. “The transfer of power in our country is more complex and has more steps than I thought,” she said. “We got to see the origins of our country.”

Adam Bischoff added he wasn’t expecting different religious leaders to speak at the inauguration.

Kiara Snook said knowing that Barnes has taken students on the trip before made it enjoyable because she knew what to do and where to go. Visiting Arlington National Cemetery was eyeopening, she added.

“We learn about wars and the numbers of people who died in books, but seeing all those graves leaves you with a deeper meaning,” Snook said.

When they were leaving to return to Oregon, Jocelyn Brown said they saw the people who would be participating in the Women’s March in Washington D.C. She said attending the inauguration and seeing the marchers was a representation of what democracy is, people coming together to support what they believe in.

Riley said other people could learn a great deal from their group. “People could learn to come together and respect each other and be friends,” she said.
Ashley Kuenzi added regardless if a person is Democrat or Republican, it’s possible to find common ground. “We got to see what we learned in history and we all had an appreciation for the history,” she said. Other students who visited D.C. included Julia Kuenzi, Jacob Metzger, Jennifer Rooper, Emma Roth, Brice Shippen and Zach Zenchenko. The chaperons were Robert Barnes, Michelle Kuenzi, Kurt Metzger and Kevin Zenchenko.

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