On January 20, 2009, a historic event took place as Barack Obama was sworn into office as the 44th President of the United States and Elmont Memorial High School wasn't going to miss it. With excitement in the air, the students and staff tuned in to the inauguration ceremony with many cheering on the new President.
Along with the excitement of witnessing the first African-American President taking office, there was also a sense of optimism and hope that the United States will change its direction. For some of the students at Elmont Memorial High School, watching the inauguration ceremony was proof that dreams can come true. "He [President Obama] made it seem like anything is possible," said senior Natalie Magloire, who watched the inauguration ceremony in the gym and whose parents come from the Caribbean. "Everyone has a chance. It doesn't matter what color you are or what your race is."
Elmont Memorial High School Principal John Capozzi made sure that everyone in the school had an opportunity to watch the inauguration ceremony. With the help of some of the more technical-savvy students, the inauguration was shown via a television feed in the auditorium and the gym and also streamed via the Internet into the classrooms.
"I'm really excited. I'm glad our school is giving us a chance to be a part of history," said senior Ivana Roman as she entered the auditorium.
Among the students and staff of Elmont Memorial High School watching the historic inauguration was former school board member Aubrey Phillips, who felt that Elmont Memorial High School was the perfect place to watch the inauguration.
Phillips, who is from a country in South America, felt proud to be watching the inauguration but for him, the story of Barack Obama becoming President isn't as much about having a black President but having one with the ability to bring people together and champion social change.
As students were filing into the auditorium to watch the inauguration ceremony, Phillips said, "When I turn around, I could be looking at the next President and that is a reality today."
For some of the students at Elmont Memorial, President Obama's message of hope resonated with those who are uncertain about the future and they could take comfort in the words of his speech. "Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America," said President Obama.
Many seniors will be going to college and then entering the job market. "I hope there will be more jobs when I graduate. Hopefully, we'll be out of the recession," said senior Carane Jean.
With a new President comes the hope that the economy of the nation will rebound. Junior Adeyinka Adiatu felt the President's speech was inspirational but warned that it's going to take a lot of work to solve the problems the nation faces.
Jasmine Varughese also felt the President's speech was motivational and inspirational as well as practical and junior Marvin Ragin Jr. felt that President Obama's election was a step forward "not just for African-Americans, but for everyone."
One thing is for sure: the students at Elmont Memorial High School who witnessed the inauguration were engaged and passionate about President Obama and the country. It was evident in the auditorium when the President was sworn in to a standing ovation.
In the gym, following the inauguration, principal Capozzi told the students, "Today, you witnessed history. It's such a great day, not only for you but for the entire country."