2001-01-24 / Front Page

Inauguration Trip ‘Fantastic’: Say School Dist. 28 Kids

Inauguration Trip ‘Fantastic’: Say School Dist. 28 Kids

Photo Al Peterson
Eli Strauss and  Emily Chesler. The lucky sixth graders were two of the 80 students in Dist. 28 to attend the Presidential Inaguration.
Photo Al Peterson Eli Strauss and Emily Chesler. The lucky sixth graders were two of the 80 students in Dist. 28 to attend the Presidential Inaguration.

Emily Chesler described her trip to the inauguration of President George W. Bush this past weekend as "really great." According to her classmate at P.S. 101 in Forest Hills, Eli Strauss, "it was fantastic."

Ariel Miller, their sixth grade teacher, said that their 56 classmates from the school at 2 Russell Place had a fabulous time.

It’s apparent that all 80 students from district 28, all sixth grade students, had a memorable time seeing the nation’s 43rd president sworn into office, attending a post-inaugural ball and visiting many of the historic sites in the nation’s capital.

The trip was arranged by a non-profit group, Education Field Trip Company, which had previously invited District 28 students to President Bill Clinton’s second term inauguration in 1997. Besides the 80 students from District 28, who won the chance to make the trip through a lottery, about 1,000 students from around the country were part of the special day in the nation’s history. District 28 includes Forest Hills, Jamaica, Rego Park and Springfield Gardens.

Each student had to pay $375 for the two-day trip, which included hotel, food, round trip bus fare and professional chaperones.

Miller said the group arrived in Washington at about 1 p.m. on Friday and immediately were whisked off to visit the United States Mint, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam and Korean War Memorials, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Ford’s Theater where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865.

On Saturday, the main event was the inauguration, which the students watched from "far back, behind the TV monitors," Miller said.

Afterward they visited the Smithsonian Institution and the Newseum, which features exhibits and the history of newspapers and the other information media that have emerged in more recent times.

"They did newscasts and made videos of each other and it turned out to be one of the most popular places they visited," Miller said.

The next most popular event was the inauguration party at the Hilton Hotel, which every student attended.

Emily, 11, and Eli, 12, said they stayed mostly with their own friends at the party.

"We didn’t make any new friends, but we had a great time with our own friends. We got to know each other better," Eli said.

Students from P.S. 55, Richmond Hill, and P.S. 117, Jamaica also made the trip, Miller said.

Emily, who "had a lot of fun visiting the sites," said her best memory was "probably the gala because it was just lots of fun being with the 800 other students."

Eli said he enjoyed every aspect of the trip and described it as "a once in a lifetime experience."

As for the political aspects of the trip, Emily said she was a Democrat, "but that really doesn’t matter that a Republican was inaugurated because it was the only inauguration I’ll ever see so it was great."

Asked his party affiliation, Eli answered, "I guess Democrat—I rooted for Gore during the campaign."

He said he was "a little disappointed" that Bush won, "but I was really happy I could go to the inauguration, happy I could be a part of it."

—John Toscano

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