Thirty-four students from Bardstown High School cheered on the National Mall Friday as they witnessed the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States.
“[The inauguration] is a great symbol of democracy,” said Cole Newton, 17. “To celebrate with so many people is amazing.”
Newton and the other students gathered in the general admission area of the Mall, some distance from the Capitol. Many people around them cheered as a giant screen showed Republicans and jeered when Hillary Clinton appeared.
Newton, a senior, was nervous at first about being part of such a large crowd, but said he had not witnessed any hostilities between protesters and Trump supporters.
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“Everybody’s been really nice,” he said, even as people heckled around him.
Fellow senior Keagan Roberson, 17, said he was happy his school organized the trip to Washington so he could see the “peaceful transition of power” with his classmates.
“We’re tomorrow’s voters and tomorrow’s future” Roberson said, “so, I think it’s really important to get the youth involved in things like this.”
David Clarke, their advanced placement government teacher and chaperone for the event, said he thought it was important for his students to see “government in action.”
“They read it in the books, but they can’t actually grasp the concepts until they see it in all forms,” he said. “The inauguration itself, but also all the things going on around it. It’s just a great display of democracy.”
Anna Vincent, 18, said she had already participated directly in the election, voting for the first time in November. Though she declined to say who she voted for, Vincent said being able to witness such a historical moment was amazing.
“It’s such a cool opportunity,” she said. “I mean who gets to go to the inauguration?”