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Inauguration Ceremony at Nottingham High School

Jessica Shaw

As millions of spectators in Washington took their seats for the President Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony, the students at Nottingham High School did the same. More than 600 students filed into the school’s auditorium on the East Side of Syracuse hoping to watch Obama take his oath of office.

Only a few rows of seats were empty, as teachers stood in the aisles and watched from the back of the room, but for a brief moment it seemed as if everyone would miss the chance to witness history.

The coverage of the inauguration projected on the screen at the front of the room suddenly become pixilated.

“We wanna hear Obama,” yelled one student from the middle of the auditorium.

The crowd echoed similar sentiments as the Librarian Manami Tezuka struggled to fix the inauguration feed.

“Right now it’s through the district network, we’re hoping it doesn’t crash since everyone is watching right now. The access to cable isn’t great and not everyone has access to cable,” Tezuka said. She laughed in relief as the coverage started back up.

Students stood and applauded throughout the pre-inauguration performances and speeches, but the atmosphere was very different when Obama stood and faced Chief Justice John Roberts. As Obama recited the oath of office, students and faculty were transfixed on the screen. The room erupted in applause and screams as Obama was officially sworn in as the 44th president of the United States.

“We’re here, we’re going to remember this for the rest of our lives,” said student Dawn Dawson, 17. “It’s history we’re able to witness, like MLK and JFK, we read about it but were never really able to experience it. “

Senior Summer Kelly said she wasn’t able to vote in the 2008 election because she wasn’t 18 yet. “But I’m always going be really proud that I was alive in a time that the first black president was elected,” she said.

Thomas Little teaches advanced placement government at Nottingham and had been preparing his students for inauguration day since Obama won the election on Nov. 4. “They look at it as seeing a new president,” Little said. “For them it’s about seeing a new face, new idea, new image, and a new focus and I think for them that part is amazing. It’s exciting, very very exciting.”

In a classroom upstairs from the auditorium, the inauguration was more than a memory for Marquie Little. For this graduating senior, it was a milestone.

Little said members of his family had been waiting their whole lives to see an African American president take office. “They’ve been looking so forward to it,” Little said. “I know my grandmother and my grandfather has been for about forty to fifty something years.”
When asked what Obama’s presidency means to him, Little replied, “Change. A change in ourselves, more pride in where we come from.”

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