Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Next Step

Well, the month after we boarded the bus and headed to Washington as been a busy time for President Obama. Our students were amazed at his energy during inauguration week as his motorcade was spotted throughout the District.

Now it's time to take this to another level by taking a look at the Obama Administration in much more depth. How good of a job has he done in working to fulfill campaign promises? Has he done too much, too fast? Will the current pace be a hallmark of the new administration.

Join us, and other schools for a discussion of these topics at:

We are hopeful that this will serve as a means for schools to collaborate about their government for a long time to come.

Friday, January 23, 2009

E pluribus unum (Out of Many, One)

Hey! Greetings from the Springfield High School Inauguration team!

Right now we are, unfortunately, on our way home from Washington DC. and Paul, Chris, Mary, Steph, Staci, Colton, Beth, Olivia, Darragh, and I, Rob, would all like to thank you for showing so much interest in the work we’ve been doing all week. This week has been a eye-opening and life changing experience. The people we have spent the days with came from all across this nation and they brought with them knowledge of the issues that affect them locally and their own opinions to the issues that face our nation. I know we are all saddened by our departure but we are grateful to have had the opportunity to witness such an event that will be remembered forever. All of us had so much fun and have created bonds, relationships, and memories that will never be broken or forgotten. Even though we did not get to directly witness the inauguration on the mall, we still got to be apart of an electric crowd for many hours and that alone was a great experience. The people we met I will never forget because standing with them for such a long period of time, relationships begin to form and stories were shared which in itself impacted my life. We did not expect that our projects on that day would go so well but thankfully it did and interviewing people was a very enriching experience. I know that I, as well as my fellow students, will never forget the unique experience that we got to share as we huddled together on a blanket and watched President Obama gave his inaugural address. The work we have done, entailed many hours , but was extremely gratifying. We can not wait to see the final product that we know we have all had a hand in making. I would thank all the people that have been involved in making this project because without them, this project would be nothing. So a big thank you to Mr. McRea, Mr. Nelson, Mr. J, and Simon from the Close-Up program. But also to the fellow students who gave us their opinions and views which were essential to the formation of the documentary. If there was one thing that we learned and took out of this trip it would be that, “No matter where you are from, no matter what you believe in, with an event like this, you can all come together as one, and celebrate the unity of our nation.”

Thank you again for following our work through the past week and we all can not wait to see the final product and share it with all of you.

Rob Toomey

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Food for thought...

The Washington Post reported 1.8 million people were in D.C to watch (or try to watch) the Inauguration of Barack Obama. During the Noon hour, the army of people were present as the occupant of the White House changed political parties, political ideologies, and (in a historic moment) ethnicity.

It is important for those of us in the United States to reflect upon the peaceful transition of power that occurred within our government yesterday.

Throughout the day, not a shot was fired and no arrests were made in a city that was bulging at the seams with people from all over the country and the world.

No matter if Democrat or Republican, Obama supporter or not, yesterday was a incredible example of our Republic at it's best.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Comment from the Control Room at SHS

What we learned today...

In the weeks leading up to today’s Inauguration Ceremonies, we set many ambitious goals regarding how we would document this historic event.

We knew that communication between Springfield, PA, and Philadelphia, PA, and Washington DC would be difficult, if not impossible. We knew that our reporters, anchors, videographers, and bloggers were attempting something that is typically only done by a network news team, not a group of high school students. We knew that large portions of our plan relied on communication tools that would be highly strained because of the volumes of people who wanted to see and hear the moment when Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States.

That is what we knew. We fully understood and accepted every challenge, weakness, and pitfall.
What we learned; however, makes the time and effort of the last few months so completely worthwhile.

We learned that a high school student can speak with the confidence and competence of a professional reporter.

We learned that our youth, who are so often accused of apathy, are engaged, passionate citizens, driven by a sincere desire to make our world a place we all can be proud of.

We discovered that we teachers can learn far more from our students than we could teach them.

Most importantly, we learned that the process of collaboration between students and teachers is far richer than any end-product we may have originally intended.

On this historic day, we celebrate our students, and the future that they will build. After observing and working with them so closely for the last few weeks, I know that the world we will entrust to them is in very, very good hands.

A word from DC

We would like to thank everyone for commenting on the blog and would encourage people to continue to do so over the remainder of the week. The past few days have been busy for us as we move through the Close Up program and prepared for the hectic Inauguration.

The day began at 4:00am and was quite intense! Transfers between lines were difficult or impossible due to the number of people on the train and on the platforms, even at that early hour.

3:50 am...waiting for the first train of the day.

On the train at 4:00 am

The Metro was packed and the Red line (the one we had been on) actually shut down for a while during the day while a woman was rescued after falling onto the tracks at about 9:30 (non-life threatening injuries). The Washington Post reported that 409,000 people had entered the Metro as of 9:00.

We arrived on the White House side of the mall to lines two blocks long and growing. As the lines fed into 7th Street and the parade checkpoint at that location; the crowd became "body to body". Unable to get to the Mall due to the checkpoints we decided to try for the parade route.

Moving to another checkpoint, we found a shorter line. However, people in that line too moved very close together and, much to our dismay, the gate was closed just before the Inaugural Address.

As we broke free of the area where we could not even bend down to tie a shoe or lift our arms easily to use a cellphone, it became evident that we were going to be unable to make it into the parade area any time soon.
So, we tried to move out of the wind and watched the Inauguration on the laptop that we had brought to stream video with. It was a bit surreal as we looked up and saw the snipers standing on the rooftop of one of the buildings across the street

It was a emotionally powerful day and, for the most part, the overall feeling was one of acceptance of the fact that the city was filled beyond capacity. Armed Forces personnel as well as police officers made every effort to insure that people kept moving and stayed safe. Even in the Metro, orange vested staff assisted confused sightseers to avoid stations that had been closed down

Rumors of the Metro shutting down and limited access to streets due to security measures made getting back to the hotel an adventure. We would like to specifically thank the two servicepeople who opened their bus to us to allow us to warm up after 8 hours of standing in the cold.
To give you an idea of how long it took people to get back to hotels after the Inauguration, one group needed 4 hours to navigate from the National Mall, into the Metro, and back to the hotel. A process that normally takes about 20 to 30 minutes.

It is time to relax and recover from this very busy day. We will try to answer any of the various comments we may have missed with this posting as soon as we are able.

First Lady's Reaction From Inauguration

The Springfield students were able to submit questions to Pennsylvania's First Lady, Judge Marjorie O. Rendell. Judge Rendell attended the inaugural events with her husband, Governor Edward G. Rendell. Please read below to get Judge Rendell's reaction of the inaugural address, her opinion of the Vice President and more!

SHS: What do you feel personally was the most important part of the Inaugural Address?
First Lady: The President reminded us of the intrinsic background of our great country. Our founding fathers showed resolve and determination- we will continue this tradition. I particularly liked his reference to facing all challenges and Americans will get up to fight a new day. In addition, I thought his call to leaders across the globe was very poignant: To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

SHS: What did you think of the audience's reaction to the Address?
First Lady: The reaction was very warm and enthusiastic. Everyone was very attentive.

SHS: Do you feel that the Address may have brought some people who may be skeptical about the President over to his side?
First Lady: It was a very unifying speech - appealing to our values as Americans.

SHS: Do you think that President Obama and Vice President Biden will have a strong relationship?
First Lady: I think they will have a strong relationship--there is great mutual respect and Obama will seek out Bidens advice because of his years of experience.

SHS: What security measures, if any, did you and Governor Rendell have to go through on your way to your seats?
First Lady: We were part of special transportation for the all of the Governors and did not encounter any problems.

SHS: What do you think of President Obama opening the White House to public visitors on the 21st?
First Lady: Perfect - it follows the tradition of Lincoln.

SHS: One of the earlier posts to the blog asked readers to give some words of encouragement to the "First Daughters". What words of encouragement or advice would you like to give them?
First Lady: My advice would be to have fun, enjoy this experience, and help your mother keep your father grounded.

The Speech

Please find the text of President Barack Obama's inauguration speech below:,8599,1872715,00.html?imw=Y

What are your initial thoughts and reactions?
Any key statements you think will resonate with students?
Do you think there was a call to action? What action?