Laura Derouin, a senior at Cooperstown High School, wouldn't have voted for Barack Obama, but she says she's looking forward to watching him take the oath of office.
Derouin is one of 77 students on a school trip to Washington to visit landmarks, attend an inaugural ball and watch as Obama is sworn into office on the same Bible used by Abraham Lincoln.
``I was a McCain supporter, but by the time of the election, people expected Obama to win, so it wasn't a surprise,'' she said.
And now that the former Illinois senator, a Democrat, is about to take office, she said she wishes him well for the nation's sake.
``I'm hoping he does a very good job,'' she said.
Ninth-grade student Ashley Bliss said she could hardly wait to make this trip.
See STUDENTS on Page 8
``It would have been exciting no matter who won, but it's a unique opportunity with Obama,'' she said.
As the first non-white to become president, the 44th chief executive represents a special milestone for the nation as well as the individual, she said.
``It's special this time because he's our first African-American,'' she said.
Tenth-grader Robbie Katz also is on the tour sponsored by WorldStrides and led by history teacher Jennifer Pindar.
``I signed up as soon as I heard seats were available,'' he said ``This is a really historic event and I want to be there.'' The very long 2008 presidential election drew him in, and it was the first time he's watched an election closely, he said.
``It was intense, especially after it came down to Obama, Clinton or McCain,'' he said.
Katz, 16, said he would have voted for Obama in the general election.
So would have Jillian Collins, 16, of Jefferson. She's in Washington now with about 20 other Girl Scouts because she won an essay contest sponsored by the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York.
``They asked me why I wanted to go, and I told them how interested I've been in this election,'' she said.
``Now it's the chance of a lifetime to be there when he takes the oath of office,'' said the straight-A student at Jefferson Central School.
She is an Obama fan, Collins said, and believes he will guide the nation well.
Pindar is leading her second trip to Washington. In 2004, Cooperstown also sent a busload to bear witness as George W. Bush swore to uphold the Constitution. That time, the local group received tickets to be on the lawn of the Capitol and watch the inauguration live.
This year, tickets were hard to come by. As Obama promises to faithfully execute his office, the students will be watching one of the many giant televisions installed on the National Mall.
``We're going to get there early so we're sure we can see everything,'' she said.
According to the Washington Post, more than a million others are likely to be there, too, hoping for a peek at history, and marking the date: 1-20-09.