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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Storm Lake youth inspired at Inauguration

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dustin Robinson
Two Storm Lake students - Emmerly Mai, a SLHS senior, and Dustin Robinson, a seventh grader at the middle school - were present for the historical event and both feel fortunate to have had the opportunity. It is something they say they will never forget.

Dustin was invited to attend the event by his sister Catharine (Cat) Robinson, a 2007 graduate of Storm Lake High School who works and lives in Washington, D.C.

Dustin flew by himself to the Nation's Capitol a few days before the event.

Emmerly poses with First Couple cutouts.
The middle schooler said he and his sister were "about a half mile" from the podium where President Obama took his oath but with large TV screens placed throughout the area, they did not miss anything that was going on.

But if you are short, like Dustin, and people in front of you keep moving, so do you.

"I had to keep moving around to get to a spot where I could see," he said.

Dustin was aware of all the security set throughout the area and maybe did a little more observation of them than he should have.

"I looked around and could see a lot of people dressed in black with binoculars and scopes. There were at least 20-50 of them on each of the buildings. I felt my president was safe but I didn't feel that safe cause one of the guys kept looking at me," he shared.

"There was lots of cheering going on," Dustin added. "I cheered so much my throat hurt!"

Dustin said the greatest part of being at the inauguration was knowing that he was "part of history."

His only regret, he said, is that he didn't get an up-close look at the president.

"If only I had gotten a ticket to get in to see him. If I could've shook his hand, I would've."

Emmerly was one of about 1,000 high schoolers who was invited to the inauguration after participating in the National Youth Leadership Forum (also a great honor.) She had to fund the trip herself and thanks all who donated dollars to her fund raising efforts.

She traveled to Washington, D.C. alone and met up with the other high schoolers once she arrived. The leadership team met as an entire group and participated in a couple days of "classroom stuff."

They discussed the inauguration, the job of the president and how to run a campaign. During another session, students had the chance to hear many speakers including journalists Bob Woodword and Nick Clooney (father of George).

"It was interesting," she said, adding, "personally, I'm not into politics but I learned so much and learned of his (President Obama) stance and his political issues. I am so happy I got to go; I may not have figured all this out on my own!"

The group of 1,000 was broken up into smaller groups of 30, making it easier to navigate. On the day of inauguration, Emmerly and her group found a spot "smack dab in the middle of the Capitol and the Washington Monument" to stand and watch. Emmerly, too, said, it was great to have the jumbo TVs all around to see what was going on.

"I have never seen so many people," she said of the crowd at the event.

Emmerly and the rest of the group had special access to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and even had their own inauguration ball. (Though not necessary, many dressed in formal wear.) While they were not able to see or dance with the president, the young people had just as much fun knowing they were part of history.

Emmerly said she is not sure she will ever know all about politics but having the opportunity to be a part of such an important event will make her "more aware."

Another thing she came away with from hearing the president talk is inspiration.

"When I heard President Obama's speech I felt inspired and know I want to do something for my community. I just want to give back..." She has some ideas and will be putting them in motion.

"This has been one of those 'once in a lifetime' things," Emmerly concluded, "to say I was invited to the inauguration."

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