It was a whirlwind six days in the nation's capital that 16-year-old Kaitlyn Frazier will not soon forget.
The Augusta Preparatory Day School junior was among students invited to attend the presidential inauguration two weeks ago by the Presidential Classroom, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing the next generation of civic leaders with academic and leadership development experiences in Washington.
"It was a completely awesome experience," said Kaitlyn, the daughter of Kevin and Mimi Frazier, of Evans. "It was probably the best week of my life."
The Presidential Classroom, established in 1968, offers 15 weeklong programs from January to March and June to mid-July.
This year's programs included the Presidential Inaugural Program, where students were invited to participate in preinaugural events, including the inaugural parade, the Presidential Classroom Student Inaugural Ball and attendance at the president's inauguration.
"We attended seminars and heard from people who work behind the scenes in Washington," said Kaitlyn, who serves as president of her class and associate editor of the yearbook staff. "We toured the Capitol and attended one of our seminars on the floor of the House and sat in the seats of congressmen."
The trip also included a presentation by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, who led the Mitchell Committee. The committee was established by President Bush after an October 2000 summit at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to find a way to prevent the recurrence of clashes between Israel and the Palestinians. The committee published its report in May 2001.
Kaitlyn Frazier, of Evans, attended President Bush's inauguration. Kaitlyn was invited by the Presidential Classroom to attend the event.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Among other activities in which the students participated were debates regarding separation of church and state, particularly the Pledge of Allegiance and the words "under God," the death penalty and the role of the media in the presidential election.
"I've never gotten to experience the views of anyone other than those in the South," Kaitlyn said. "It was neat to hear what other people thought. We'd have these heated discussions one minute and then go to lunch."
Though Kaitlyn was too young to vote in the past election, she said Bush would have gotten her nod for another four years in office. When she accepted the invitation to the inauguration, however, the election results were not in and she didn't know which candidate she would witness being sworn in as president.
She said it was a treat to see Bush as he made an appearance at the Presidential Classroom's Student Inaugural Ball, where the preinaugural concert was attended by nearly 10,000 people. The theme for the night was America's Future Rocks Today. Kaitlyn said it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the inauguration.
"It was absolutely amazing," she said. "I completely support the war in Iraq. It's our duty to help other parts of the world and it was awesome to see the guarantee of protection throughout the world by President Bush's re-election.
"I come from a very small school," said Kaitlyn, a member of the National Honor Society and the school's math team. "I've never been surrounded by so many kids my own age. I made some of the best friends over the week. It was a great opportunity to spend a week in the nation's capitol and an awesome opportunity for me to get out and expand my horizons."
As for her future, Kaitlyn has a couple of goals in mind.
"I plan to be a doctor and hope to get into politics after that," the Governor's Honors Program semifinalist said. "I want to be a senator and make a difference. I think it would be an effective way to help my country."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.