Corner Canyon High students witness presidential inauguration
Corner Canyon High students, along with their teacher and parent volunteers, attended the presidential inauguration and saw several other sites in Washington, D.C., including the Supreme Court. (Taylor Sampson/Corner Canyon High School)
For about a year, Corner Canyon High senior Taylor Sampson has been planning to attend the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C.
“It’s amazing to be part of history and to actually see what we’ve learned about in school,” Taylor said.
She and 10 other Corner Canyon High School students, accompanied by their teacher Amber Rogers and three parents, stood in the center section to witness the swearing in of the new president — only their view was blocked by the stands for the television monitors.
“We saw it on the huge TVs, but it was still way cool to experience it and have everyone together united after the past year of debates. We saw President (Barack) Obama’s helicopter circle around to say goodbye one last time. I could see him through the helicopter window,” Taylor said.
At the ceremony, the Corner Canyon delegation could see Vice President Joe Biden, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Minority Leader of the House Nancy Pelosi and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
“It was history in the making and very inspirational,” Rogers said, adding that it was worth waiting for hours to witness the inauguration.
To pass the time, Rogers quizzed her U.S. government and AP U.S. government students with history trivia.
“It was only a 15-minute speech. Students thought it would be an hour and they were surprised at how many scripture verses were included when they thought church would be separated from state,” she said.
The Corner Canyon group was in Washington, D.C. for four days — Jan. 19 through Jan. 22 — and managed to average 11 miles per day of walking, Rogers said.
Their sightseeing began with seeing the Pentagon and its 9-11 memorial.
“Several students said this was among their favorite because it was so beautiful and moving,” Rogers said. “There is a part dedicated to those who died aboard the plane and those who died in the Pentagon.”
They walked the National Mall and visited Washington Monument; Jefferson, Lincoln, Martin Luther King and World War II memorials; and the National Museum of American History.
Going into the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum was one of Taylor’s favorite parts.
“I’m really interested in World War II and that time in history. I have studied Anne Frank and consider her a role model,” she said.
Another part Taylor and other students appreciated was the Women’s March. As they were trying to make their way to Ford’s Theatre, they were surrounded by more than one million marchers with signs.
“We walked through the middle of it and it was amazing to see everyone so passionate about it; they were uniting through posters and chants,” she said.
However, because of the delay with the Women’s March, they missed their entry time into Ford’s Theatre and only saw where President Lincoln was shot and died at the home across the street from the outside.
Still, it was worth it. Rogers said this allowed the students to see both sides of political issues through a peaceful protest.
“They learned that people have a say in our democracy and can protest to have their voices be heard,” she said.
The group also visited the U.S. Capitol, National Archives and the Supreme Court of the United States.
“I’m a big fan of Supreme Court cases, so we talked about the court cases beforehand and then, gave them trivia questions once we were there,” Rogers said. “Their reaction at the Archives was shock. They could not believe anyone had such perfect handwriting when they saw the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Magna Carta.”
Their experience wasn’t over when they boarded the airplane. As they disembarked, they saw Malia Obama get off the same plane.
“We didn’t know she was on board. She was on her way to Sundance and we were so surprised, we didn’t ask for a photo or get an autograph.”
Taylor will share her experiences with her new classmates.
“I learned so much about America and her history. To be there, in the moment, and to be in D.C. and see the monuments, it gave me to a greater understanding,” she said.