Mackenzie Bazemore said her phone clocked her at 27,605 steps on Friday as she and 14 other First Presbyterian Christian Academy students walked around the Capitol for the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
FPCA’s Y Club traveled to Washington, D.C. for the event as part of the State YMCA of Georgia Inauguration Tour.
"I felt like I was involved in a part of history," student Nick Bolton said of witnessing the oath of office and listening the president’s inaugural address.
"This was the closest I have ever been to a president and the first time I saw snipers on rooftops," student Cameron Eason added.
Eighth grade student Alyson Cochrane admitted she was initially scared as the group prepared for Inauguration Day "because of the media’s interpretation of what could happen." She said her actual experience involved seeing more people than expected and it was "very pleasant with no violence."
The students traveled by van from Hinesville to Atlanta to catch a coach bus that took them Washington, D.C. They arrived early in the week Jan. 16 for the tour.
In addition to the inauguration, student Luke Osteen said seeing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was the most memorable part of the trip for him.
"Because my grandfather was involved in that conflict and it was very emotional," Osteen said.
Y Club adviser/teacher Angel Kicklighter, Y Club parent adviser Stephanie Osteen, and FPCA parent Paula Hendrix went with the students as chaperones. Kicklighter described the trip as an unforgettable experience for the youngsters where they learned a lot.
She explained the school heard about the Inauguration Tour at the Y Club’s Youth Assembly Conference held in Atlanta.
"This was the first time we realized the trip was a possibility for our students and we immediately began taking steps to make this once-in-a-lifetime trip a reality for our students," Kicklighter said.
"We signed up to go before the election and we did not know who we were going to watch be sworn in," Osteen added. "We just wanted to take the children and let them experience a U.S. president inauguration and this was the perfect opportunity."
Apparently, it indeed became a learning experience.
"I’ve never been on a trip like this before. Before this trip, I didn’t know exactly how someone became president and took office," student Skyler Jenkins said.
Student Jacob Mccartney said he and his club member got to speak to two members of the Georgia Senate while visiting the U.S. Supreme Court.
Student Kaylin Christiansen added, "I got to visit so many museums and landmarks and learn so much about American history and also have the opportunity to witness a presidential inauguration. A lot of people have never done that."
It was the first time that student Vivian Hinze had been to Washington, D.C.
"It was a lot cooler than Hinesville," she said.
The group also encountered a different kind of cool.
"I was terrified of freezing, but excited. It wasn’t as cold as it could have been," student David Hinze said. "Low 40s was the coldest we were in."
Philip McGowan explained that the Y Club gave them toboggan hats, scarves, and hand warmers.
"The weather was like one of our cold days," McGowan said.
The children also had some laughs along the way. Jake Young enjoyed having dinner at the Medieval Times dinner theater in Baltimore.
"I never laughed so hard when friends and I rode the aircraft simulator at the Smithsonian (National) Air and Space Museum," Kyle Osteen said.