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Schools Find ‘Teachable’ Moment in Inauguration

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

Schools across San Diego County used today's presidential inauguration as a "teachable" moment. One such school was Sandburg Elementary in Mira Mesa. KPBS Reporter Ana Tintocalis spoke with school kids about their new president. 

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(Photo: Sandburg Elementary students gather in the auditorium to watch President Barrack Obama’s inauguration. Ana Tintocalis/KPBS )

 

Sounds of Sandburg students reciting the Pledge of Allegiance
    

The school day started out as it always does with the Pledge of Allegiance. But instead of reciting the pledge inside individual classrooms, roughly 600 of Sandburg's students came together at the center of campus. Principal Laurie Hinzman says it symbolizes what Obama has been trying to do all along – bring people together, treat people with respect, and persevering.
 

Hinzman: When you make a mistake, or you're not sure how to do something, do we want you to give up?

Students: No!

Hinzman: Barrack Obama did not give up. He had a dream. And he went for his dream.
 

The school kids had a full morning of activities including singing songs and reciting poems. For homework they'll be writing in their journalis about what today means to them.
 

Fifth-grader Braxton Bentley says this day is especially important to him and his family. 
 

Bentley: Because Martin Luther's dream came true and there's a black man in the White House. To me, it’s important because I'm half African American, my dad is. (Obama) has made me dream that maybe I can be president one day.
 

Ten-year-old Carlie Decosta, another African American student at Sandburg, says Obama is defying the odds.
 

Decosta: I never thought anyone could be president and be African American. Because I didn't even know you were allowed to do that. And so I was surprised and happy that he’s become president.
 

And so with high hopes, Sandburg students cheered as Obama took center stage, held his right hand and said the oath of office.
 

Sounds of inauguration televised live in school auditorium 
 

Students here say their new president means a lot of different things to them, including freedom, hope and happiness. Nine-year-old Nicholas Holmes says Obama represents honor. 
 

Holmes: He earned what he is now today. He kept trying and never gave up. And he never backed down. He just kept going and going and going.
 

While the students admit they don't know much about foreign policy, economic bailouts and healthcare reform, they do know that Obama has a lot of his plate.
 

Ten-year-old Braxton Bentley had these words of advice.
 

Bentley: Focus on the big problems in the U.S., and also on the little problems. So the little problems don't become big and the big problems don't become bigger.
 

Ten-year-old Betsy Podsiadlo also encourages Obama to focus on solutions, but says to be true to himself.
 

Podsiadlo: Don't try to please everybody because it doesn't matter if you please everybody. Sometimes, if you try to please everyone you make a bigger mess of things.
 

Sandburg students say they are excited for the future. They're hoping Obama will come up with way to fix the economy, healthcare and our dependence on foreign oil.  

 

Ana Tintocalis, KPBS News.

 

Above, students and faculty from San Diego State University react to the inauguration.

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