While his Evans High School classmates are studying history, Ian Saunders will witness it.
Ian, 17, is one of at least eight Columbia County public school students traveling to Washington, D.C., to see the Tuesday inauguration of Barack Obama as the nation's 44th president. His chance to attend the event came as the result of a wager he made with his father, Richmond County Juvenile Court Judge Willie Saunders.
"Me and my dad made a little bet. He liked McCain a lot," Ian recalled. "Back in the primary, I told him that if Barack won the election that we should go to the inauguration. He agreed, because he sort of believed it wasn't going to happen."
Ian's liberal tendencies stem from his mother, Lezettra's, side of the family.
As co-president of Evans High's Young Democrats, Ian said he campaigned for Obama door-to-door, made phone calls, published school newsletters and hosted showings of presidential debates.
"He (Obama) represents a new generation," Ian said. "I have nothing against guys with experience, but he brought something new to the table we haven't seen before."
Other pupils likely will watch coverage in class, schools Superintendent Charles Nagle said.
Jarthur Harris, a longtime Democrat and leader of the county's NAACP, said earlier this month that at least six buses have been reserved from Harlem-based Horizon Motor Coach, which he owns, to take passengers to Obama's inauguration. He, too, likely will attend the event.
Gwendolyn Freeman, the newly-elected chairwoman of the Columbia County Democratic Party, said this month that she and other area Democrats also are planning to attend.
Now that Obama has won, Ian said he feels less intimidated to be a Democrat in such a Republican stronghold as Columbia County.
"During the campaign, the other club -- Teenage Republicans -- would take shots at us and make fun of us, because we were the little guys," he said. "I think we were outnumbered two to one."
Ian said he dreams of one day becoming president. Now that a minority has reached that office, he believes his goal is more attainable.
"Seeing Barack win was inspirational to me," he said. "Now other minorities have hope to achieve bigger and greater things."
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