A group of students from Frazier Preparatory Academy Elementary School on the West Side will be among the two million people expected to attend the presidential inauguration Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
A group of students from Frazier Preparatory Academy Elementary School on the West Side will be among the two million people expected to attend the presidential inauguration Tuesday in Washington, D.C. For many of the 24 students who will leave for the nation’s capital on Saturday, this will be the first time they have traveled outside Chicago. “This will be my first visit to Washington D.C.,” said sixth-grader Tehavis Smith. “Getting a chance to see the president make his most important promise to the United States will be very exciting.” Frazier Academy Principal Lakita Little said November’s historic election of the first Black U.S. president has inspired the students to dream high. “President-elect Obama’s victory has helped our students realize they are capable of achieving anything and that race does not have the same barriers that it once had in society,” Little said. “The election and the chance to witness history are sending a strong message to our students that hard work is rewarded and that getting a quality education is critically important.” The 24 students, named the “DC 24,” were selected for the trip on the basis of their grades, test scores, an oral interview, citizenship scores and an essay. While there for four days, students will visit museums, the national monuments, Arlington Cemetery, take a tour of the White House, meet with their local U.S. Representatives, visit Howard University and Georgetown University, both in Washington, and attend an inaugural ball. The idea for the inauguration trip came about last summer when first grade teacher, Camia Hoard, and assistant principal, Kristie Langbehn, were discussing how to relate the election back to the school’s curriculum. The McCormick Foundation, along with the Best Portion Foundation, helped to make the DC 24 trip possible. McCormick contributed $26,000, and the Best Portion Foundation contributed $15,000 to cover the cost of students’ travel, lodging, tours, winter coats, mittens, scarves, uniformed blazers for the ball and provide the students with spending money. “Frazier Prep is not only offering children on the city’s West Side an engaging, high-quality learning experience, it has inspired parents, students and community members to partner with the school and dedicate themselves to ensuring every child becomes an active and engaged citizen who contributes to society,” said Sara Slaughter, director of the Education Program at the McCormick Foundation. Students, parents and staff partnered with the school’s PTA to hold fundraisers to help offset the cost of the trip. These efforts, in combination with gifts from other private donors and corporate sponsors, raised an additional $14,000. Frazier parent Felicia Williams helped her son raise $500 through a pre-ordered cake sale, with Tyler and Williams working tirelessly, baking all the cakes that were ordered. “Getting to see President-elect Obama take the oath of office will show my son that he can do whatever he wants to do,” said Williams, who will serve as a chaperone on the trip. “He is learning that nothing should or can hold him back.” ______ In photo:Cook County Board President Todd Stroger honored the 24 elementary students from Frazier Prep Academy on the West Side, who will attend the presidential inauguration.
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