Leader Blues

Friday, January 16, 2009

TOP STORY > >Many residents heading to D.C. for inaugural

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader senior staff writer

Among 10,000 high school students making the trip to Washington for Barack Obama’s inauguration, 22 VIP tickets were awarded and Jacksonville High School got 14 of those, according to advance placement government teacher Lori Lachowsky.

She credits Cong. Vic Snyder and the Arkansas delegation with getting those tickets, which will allow 11 students, Lachowsky and two parents or chaperones close enough to see the activities.

Also headed out for the festivities is Pulaski County Clerk Pat O’Brien of Jacksonville. O’Brien was the first elected official in central Arkansas to openly support Obama’s campaign, and he was an Obama delegate at the Democratic National Convention.

Cody Castile, 18, said, “I had a little part in what I’m about to see.”

He barely made the voting age cutoff and voted for Obama. “I’m going to witness what’s going down in the history books
forever,” he added.

Brianna Bush, another student, credits Lachowsky with starting to work toward going to the inauguration at the end of the last school year.

“She was very consistent, emailing and talking to the right people,” Bush said.

Marie Dahlke says she’s excited about getting in the VIP section “with all the elites and seeing (famous) people in person. That never happens to kids in Arkansas.”

“This is a once in a lifetime event,” said Sydney York, who claims decorated World War I hero Sgt. Alvin York as her great, great, great uncle. She said her excitement is getting “worse and worse.”

O’Brien will stay mostly with an aunt in Annapolis, Md., but will stay in a hotel on Monday night after attending the Arkansas Ball and the Southern Regional Ball.

He expects to witness the inauguration the next day as “one of the closest 240,000 people, depending on how quickly I get there.”

He said he wouldn’t be close enough “to give Obama a shout out.”