UNION COUNTY — A group of Union County High School students who traveled to Washington, DC to witness the inauguration of President Trump represented Union County well while enjoying an unforgettable experience according to the teacher who organized the trip.
On Jan. 20, Donald John Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States of America. Among those present to witness the inauguration were 26 Interact Club members and AP History students from Union County High School. The students, and their seven chaperones, had traveled to Washington, DC to witness the inauguration and tour the historic sites of the nation’s capital.
The trip was the idea of Elizabeth Ireton who teaches AP Psychology and Special Education at UCHS who said she was inspired by a colleague in Gaffney who each year takes students from his school to Washington, DC.
“I used to work in Gaffney and I have a good friend there who teaches there and every year they take students to Washington, ” Ireton said Monday. “During an election year they go to the inauguration.
“This is something I’ve been wanting to do for the students,” she said. “This year there were a number of schools that were going including Broome, Gaffney, and Spartanburg Christian Academy. All went and we ran into some of them there.”
Ireton said the students and chaperones left Union on Wednesday, Jan. 18 and traveled to Lorton, Virginia, where they stayed during their trip. She said Lorton is about 20 minutes from Washington, DC, giving the students and chaperones the opportunity to travel into the city and tour its historic landmarks and institutions.
“When we got there Wednesday night we toured some of the monuments,” Ireton said. “We saw the Jefferson Memorial, the Iwo Jima, FDR, and Martin Luther King Jr. monuments. We tried to go to the Lincoln Memorial but it was closed for the welcome concert Trump had that night. We did see the Washington Monument but it was closed for some construction.”
The students and chaperones continued their tour of the city on Thursday, Jan. 19, again taking in it landmarks and the history preserved and on display.
“On the second day we toured the National Cathedral and then we went to the Smithsonians,” Ireton said. “We had three or four hours to decide which we wanted to go to. Most of us did the history Smithsonian. There we got to see the gowns of the former First Ladies, Dorothy’s slippers from the Wizard of Oz, and Muhammed Ali’s gloves. We had dinner in the city and we stopped briefly at the Air Force Monument.”
Then it was Jan. 20, Inauguration Day. A day that began early for the students and their chaperones.
“Friday we were on the buses at 6:30 a.m.,” Ireton said. “We had breakfast and then we got on the Metro and went all the way in on it. Then we waited in a very long line to go through security. We got in right at 11:30, just as the ceremony was starting.
“We were probably four blocks back from the Capitol,” she said. “We could see clearly on a screen and hear clearly on loudspeakers.”
After the inauguration, Ireton said some of the group stuck around for the parade that followed while others went to the Holocaust Museum.
While the inauguration itself was over and it was getting close to time to go home, there was enough time left on Saturday for a visit to another national landmark, a visit during which the students and chaperones discovered there was another visitor from Union County there as well.
“We toured Arlington the next morning and left at noon,” Ireton said. “When we were at Arlington we ran into The Citadel Summerall Guard and Avery Hyatt who is a member and a former Union County High School student.”
Ireton said that the students enjoyed their trip to Washington, DC and that the community should be proud of them for how they conducted themselves.
“It was unforgettable,” Ireton said. “Some of the students have said it was the best trip ever. They were well-behaved, they represented Union County well.”
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.