Residents prepare for historic inauguration

Published 8:50 pm Monday, January 19, 2009

For some inauguration day will bring excitement, for others, maybe not. But for all, it will be historic.

And whether the Inauguration of the 44th President Barack Obama represents broken racial barriers, new political policies or simply opportunity for important classroom lessons, Pike County residents have been gearing up for this day.

Some local teachers were preparing classroom lesson plans, while other residents were selling Obama T-shirts and coffee mugs outside Wal-Mart Monday. Still others were just reflective of what is to come.

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“Image wise, the picture that Obama will present, what people will see on the television with a black president standing in front of a mixture of backgrounds, ethnicities, genders and ages, paints a truer picture of what America is supposed to be,” said Mark Shafer, a Troy University student. “It’s a step forward for doing away with racism.”

That’s what Charles Henderson Middle School history teacher Paul Gilbert said will be discussed in his classroom today.

“It’s important because I think it shows the country’s changed a lot since the days of slavery,” Gilbert said. “It kind of shows them that anything’s possible, but it takes time.”

Gilbert said his students will spend some of the class time watching the inauguration on TV, but many of the election lessons were already taught in the fall.

And that lesson, Gilbert said, is one students of this age group have enjoyed more than any other class proceeding them.

“Kids were more interested in this lesson than any we’ve had in the last 15 years,” Gilbert said.

At Pike Liberal Arts School, Dewight Ward, who teaches eighth, ninth and tenth grade history, said he will use the opportunity to discuss the uniqueness of the election with his students.

“I think one of the great things is only in America can we have the opportunity, and that’s what I think is important — opportunity,” Ward said.

Olympia Bess, owner of Olympia Screen Printing & Embroidery, was selling Obama apparel outside of Troy’s Wal-Mart to help local residents take part in the celebration.

“We’re doing it because everyone wants to represent and play a part in history,” Bess said.

And Clarence McCall, who is without a job, said he hopes Obama’s policies really will bring about change.

“I hope he’s really sincere about trying to make a change,” McCall said. “We’re all pulling for him.”

*Anna Green contributed to this story.