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Cowell School 8th graders recall excitement of inauguration trip
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From left, Logan Newcomb and Amanda Christensen, both eighth-grade students at Joshua Cowell School, were among the 1.6 million in the National Mall attending the historic inauguration of President Barack Obama. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT
Amanda Christensen and Logan Newcomb were among the 1.6 million in Washington, DC’s, National Mall during the historic inauguration of President Barack Obama.

The two Joshua Cowell School eighth-grade students were among the 2,000 delegates from People to People International.

This was their third time traveling with the group, with visits over the past three years including the United Kingdom (2006) and Australia (2007).

“It was exciting just being at the inauguration,” said Christensen, who is the daughter of Tommy and Bill Christensen.

Amid the excitement and increased energy level, they sat in the “Silver Ticket” area of the mall. “Our backs were facing the Washington Monument but we were next to one of the Jumbo Tron screen,” said Newcomb.

He’s the son of Tom and Kristi Newcomb. This was also his second visit to Washington, DC, within the past year, having the opportunity to see the East Coast back in July thanks to the WorldStrides Educational Student Travel program.

Newcomb and Christensen’s group also had a chance to visit the Spy Museum, the Newseum, the National Cemetery in Arlington, Mount Vernon and the Hall of Presidents during their six-day stay.

Upon their arrival, they were greeted by Mary Eisenhower, the granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and journalist / author Ken Walsh.

Their accommodations were about a 10- to 20-minute bus ride from the National Mall. But the situation differed on inauguration day.

“It took us two hours to get there,” Christensen said.

During the inauguration, Newcomb could feel the presence of security. “You could see snipers from the roof tops and three to four military helicopters hovering over,” he said.

During their visit, they had one incident that occurred near the White House.

“Our bus was rear ended (by a car),” Christensen said. “But we could hardly feel it since we were used to the bumpy ride.”

Among the notables at the scene was the Rev. Al Sharpton.

“There must have been a mob of 500 out there,” said Newcomb, who added that no one was injured in the collision.

As for the 16 degree temperatures, Christensen said the chilly weather reminded her of those days of living in upstate New York. “The cold didn’t bother me at all,” she said.

 According to their parents, the experience of witnessing such an historic event may not have quite sunk in for Newcomb and Christensen.

“I know our history teacher (Scott Barnes) was excited for us,” Christensen said.