POSTED: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - 6:45pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - 6:49pm
Baton Rouge, LA (NBC33) — They may not be old enough to vote, but a group of high schoolers know that a trip to Washington DC will give them a sense of history that no textbook can duplicate.
"We actually have a chance to see government take place," said Destiny Johnson.
On Saturday, 20 Mentorship Academy students will fly to Washington D.C. for the presidential inauguration, and will spend four days in the capitol.
A pair of teachers started planning the trip last spring. When plans were finalized at the beginning of the school year, the kids fought for spots, excited about the opportunity to witness history.
"When (President Obama) first got elected, I seen him walk beside the limo," said Stanley Wade. "Now me, I was scared. I was like, 'get in the limo, I need you in the limo.'"
The toughest part for the students was raising money. They used a variety of methods to help cover their costs.
"They hosted a dance at our school," said Trenell Williams. "And we actually got a chance to do a car wash and things like that to raise money to go on the trip."
Tina Ngo said she was encouraged to write an essay for a scholarship contest. When the sponsor called, she was surprised, but she recalled, "he just said, 'yes, you just earned $700 from me' So I was like, 'oh, golly, I'm so happy!'"
And when they told members of the community about their trip, they were shocked by how many people volunteered to help.
"At World Shakers Church International, the church that I go to, they decided to raise the whole amount of money for me to go," said Taylor Tyler. "Me and one of my friends that goes that church with me, she's going on the trip, too. So they just raised $3,800 in the whole service for us so we could go on the trip."
"We paid, like, $500 off our account," Isiah Harbor said, referring to his brother, Matthew, "but it was hard to get it. But the 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge, we're with them in the program, so they paid off the rest of our trip funds."
The students were proud to have so much support.
"I think it actually shows that people within the community care about us having a chance to broaden our horizons, and just being able to do things beyond Baton Rouge," said Orlandria Simmons.
One of the students mentioned a visit to the Lincoln Memorial as something he was looking forward. Others joked about meeting Secret Service agents, crashing an inaugural ball, or talking with Beyonce, who is scheduled to perform. But they all understood the value of the experience they were about to have.
"This is gonna be the greatest experience of our lives," Wade said.