St. Al students, who followed election closely, witness historic inauguration

Published 8:28 pm Friday, January 20, 2017

All across America, citizens turned on televisions and pulled up live feeds Friday morning to see President Donald J. Trump sworn into office.

Here in Vicksburg, the students at St. Aloysius High School gathered in the school’s library throughout the day during their history class period to watch history in action and to discuss what they saw.

“Every student at some point today will see some part of the process,” history teacher Karla McHan said.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

The classes followed the entire election cycle closely from the first days of school through Election Day. All students delved into learning about the candidates and held a mock election to voice their opinion. Seniors who had turned 18 years old had the opportunity to actually vote in their first presidential election.

Watching the inauguration was a way for the classes to cap off the lesson in civics.

“This is the culmination of that process,” government teacher Maggie Nasiff said.

McHan said it was a great lesson for the students to get to witness the days worth of ceremonies for the next commander-in-chief.

“To see the whole process finish —from the primaries through the inauguration —is important,” McHan said.

Many of the students were too young to comprehend the ceremony four years ago when President Barak Obama was sworn in for the second time, and this is the first inauguration they have had the chance to witness and understand.

“For a lot of these kids, this is the first time they’ve seen anything like this. So (it is important) to expose them (to the inauguration) so they can have a basis to move forward as they become adults and vote for themselves,” McHan said.

Freshman Tommy Martin said watching the transition of power was fascinating because he is one of those students who were too young four years ago to appreciate the importance of swearing in a president.

“It’s very interesting to see this for the first time,” Martin said. “There are a lot of moving parts to it, which I find interesting.”

In addition to watching it on the big screen, students did activities like learning inauguration trivia and reading the oath of office. During the transition periods between speeches and events, students also discussed the significance of what was happening.

“They discussed what they thought Donald Trump would include in his inauguration speech and what they thought he should and shouldn’t include,” Nasiff said.

“And for the classes that come later, we’re going to look at what he did say and what they thought was most important and their opinion of his speech. We have different things for different groups because of when they were able to come in,” McHan said.

Senior Elizabeth Sanchez said the group clustered in the library discussed President Trump’s lack of political background, which she said would be an interesting change for the country. She watched speeches by senators and pastors and saw Vice President Mike Pence being sworn in before the president’s oath of office.

Sanchez said she learned a lot by watching the ceremony.

“A lot of our leaders are worried for justice,” she said. “It seems as though they believe that justice will soon come.”

McHan said the students were engaged quietly watching it unfold on television and making sure to point out people they saw arrive to the ceremony like members of the Supreme Court.

“This is a huge group, and they’re so quiet and really paying attention,” McHan said.

Nasiff said she enjoyed hearing the students’ comments and seeing how much they understood about the transition process. Junior Gray Houser said he has an interest in politics, and he was thrilled to get to watch the coverage from the library.

“We’re seeing a very peaceful transition of power, of course, known in American democracy,” he said. “This is honestly the first time, even though I really love politics, this is the first time I’ve really watched an inauguration in full, live.”

He said he learned more from getting to watch the inauguration live than just studying about what would happen.

“I learned how it actually, more than just in theory, how it will go down. I learned a lot from watching it happen,” he said.