Weast: don't ruin this historic opportunity

Nov. 24, 2008, midnight | By Jeremy Gradwohl | 11 years, 11 months ago

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?

Jeremy Gradwohl. Jeremy is a good, upstanding citizen. He likes the city of Takoma Park, baseball, good music and the Orioles back in the day when they had Cal Ripken Jr. Nature also plays a big part in his life. More »

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