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Nov. 24, 2008

Weast: don't ruin this historic opportunity

by Jeremy Gradwohl, Online Op/Ed Editor
We are in Obama era. Barack Obama is poised to be the 44th President of the United States of America, and with a majority of Democrats in Congress, Obama should have a successful term. Regardless of his race, Obama has been an incredibly unifying force. Obama supporters go out of their way to be nice to each other. I've noticed that drivers with Obama-Biden stickers have been less aggressive. Even some John McCain supporters are jumping on the Obama "love train."

Last Saturday, MCPS Superintendent Jerry D. Weast released a memorandum detailing why school will not be canceled on Barack Obama's inauguration. Weast shot down the Springbrook High School SGA's petition to cancel school Jan. 20 by saying that canceling school that day would cause irreconcilable complications, especially since Inauguration Day is in the middle of MCPS exams. For Blair specifically, it would would conflict with period three and four exams. He even cites the almanac, telling the Washington Post that "it's going to be a bad winter."

Years from now our kids will ask us what we were doing on 9/11, how we celebrated the seventh Harry Potter book - and where we were when Barack Obama was sworn in. Nobody wants to say that they could have gone to Obama's inauguration - a historic, bipartisan event occurring only a few miles away - but instead they were stuck at school taking an English exam (and probably suffering through it, watching the clock distractedly).

Adults and kids around the nation would kill to get on an airplane and be on the mall for Jan. 20. We're just a few metro stops away. A day off on Inauguration Day isn't about canceling school - it's about allowing us to be excited about politics. When have high school students ever asked for that before?

Other school systems seem to recognize the brilliant opportunity for us to witness history. Most school systems in the Washington metro area have already canceled school that day: D.C., Fairfax, Prince George's and Arlington County public schools have already altered their calendars. But, alas, no. Montgomery County has to complicate things and be the odd one out.

Last Thursday, the Washington Post reported that a MCPS board member is trying to declare Inauguration Day as a holiday. Let's hope that his proposal will resonate well with the rest of the board members. After all, the eight-person Board of Education will decide whether there is school - it's not Weast's decision.

Towards the end of the memorandum, Weast declares that a student going to the inauguration with his family would have an excused absence. He also says that a high school principal can decide to only have one exam that day, giving students time to make it down to the mall afterward. Weast is not sending the right message. Never has there been a time where politics has been more exciting. If MCPS can't acknowledge this fact, then how can we expect to keep up youth voter turnout?



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  • nate on November 24, 2008 at 7:06 PM
    well said grads
    On a day when like 100 million people will be looking to Washington we should be able to be there to celebrate with everyybody else
    plus, who could possibly concentrate during one or two exams when something like tha is going on
  • Rebecca (View Email) on November 24, 2008 at 7:25 PM
    Haha this is what my story is about for print. Anyway, can't we still get to inauguration in time if we go after exams? or is that not really gonna work?
  • GMAN on November 24, 2008 at 9:57 PM
    well Rebecca, we may be able to get there if it were a normal day, but probably not, it's inauguration day!!! All of metro and buses will be packed and running slow. An easy trip on any other day will become impossible. This should be an all day affair. We should be able to witness this event in it's entirety.
  • excited on November 24, 2008 at 10:19 PM
    Well the Board of Education is making hte decision on the 20th and I THINK THEYRE GOING TO CANCEL SCHOOL!!!!!!
  • HUnkyDoris on November 25, 2008 at 6:01 PM
    That is a sick graphic. GO ART STAFF!!!!

    Good Job Jeremy, also.
  • S.Hill on November 25, 2008 at 7:56 PM
    We already have off the 19th, and Friday is the last day of the marking period. Cancelling another day is going to put too much stress on the already busy testing week. Unless someone can provide a better option for testing week, I don't think this "historic" event, is worth the day off.

    The only think I can think of is pushing the test week forward.
  • blah on November 26, 2008 at 9:05 PM
    It's great that people are finally happy with a president-elect, but realistically, have you even tried to get tickets to inauguration? You have to request for them through your Congress representative/senator, and if you haven't done so already, chances are you won't get one unless you buy them off someone for a hefty sum. A day off of school is nice in general, but using the inauguration as a logical excuse is bogus. Considering the financial consequences, the BOE would be insane to close school.
  • Melissa on November 28, 2008 at 10:53 AM
    While Obama's inauguration will be a momentous occasion, it is important to think about the situations that would arise for other Montgomery County students if school were closed. About 36,000 students rely on their free and reduced-price meal plans at school to eat during the day. In addition, many students would have no childcare during the day because their parents work. Another day off would add immense stress to the lives of families who depend on school to provide food and care for their children. If Obama has brought change to America, shouldn't we change our ways by thinking about the more pressing needs of others?
  • to blah (View Email) on December 9, 2008 at 4:56 PM
    you dont need a ticket you can get close enough to see without one
  • you know who i am (View Email) on December 9, 2008 at 4:58 PM
    Years from now our kids will ask us what we were doing on 9/11, how we celebrated the seventh Harry Potter book - and where we were when Barack Obama was sworn in.

    really good point.
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