At a glance ...
• An incoming Craig Middle School seventh-grader will view the 2013 presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C.
• Tristan Farquharson was invited to participate in the Middle School Presidential Inaugural Conference in January.
• The 12-year-old’s participation in the Junior National Young Leaders Conference last year made him eligible for the event. • Tristan also will hear speeches from Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara P. Bush, daughters of former President George W. Bush, and attend an inaugural gala celebration.
“Just being able to get invited is pretty cool.”
— Tristan Farquharson, incoming Craig Middle School seventh-grader, about his invitation to the January 2013 Middle School Presidential Inaugural Conference in Washington, D.C.
The words “Presidential Inaugural Conference” glistened in gold against the invitation’s dark blue background. At first, Tristan Farquharson didn’t know what to think.
“When I figured out that I got to go, I was really excited,” the 12-year-old said.
“But yet, then again, I was like, ‘Somebody from Craig is actually going to this?’”
Tristan said with awe in his voice.
The invitation, which he received in March, is his ticket to view the pomp and circumstance surrounding one of the nation’s most prestigious events.
In January 2013, the incoming Craig Middle School seventh-grader will represent Craig in Washington, D.C., where he will watch either President Barack Obama be sworn in for another term or Republican contender Mitt Romney take the oath of office.
Although Tristan isn’t a political junkie and he hasn’t lost sleep about who will win the presidential race, he appreciates the rare opportunity offered to him.
“Just being able to get invited is pretty cool,” he said.
The five-day conference includes an inaugural viewing party via a TV feed at the National Mall and a gala inaugural celebration at Gaylord National Resort in Maryland.
Tristan and other inaugural scholars will hear from Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara P. Bush, daughters of former President George W. Bush, about what it’s like to be in the First Family.
They will examine how past presidents made their way to the White House, participate in a presidential campaign simulation and discover all the duties required from the nation’s highest elected official.
Tristan already has a grasp on what the president’s job looks like.
“It seems basically like a school principal only on (a) bigger scale,” he said.
He also knows a few things about leadership.
He was one of five Sandrock Elementary School students nominated to participate in the 2011 Junior National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C.
Tristan pulled out a thick workbook stuffed with notes, a memento from the conference in October.
“I look through it every now and then,” he said as he flipped through its pages, recalling the group’s trip to Harpers Ferry and the subsequent paper he wrote about John Brown’s raid.
Participating in the Young Leaders Conference granted him alumni scholar status and automatically made him eligible for the inaugural conference.
It also gave him a clearer understanding of what it means to be in charge.
“I realized that just because you have fancy titles and stuff doesn’t mean you’re a leader,” he said. “You can be a big boss, but you still have to know what you’re doing.”
The president’s role follows the same rules, with a catch.
“The only thing that really differs is you have to make rules and then get them to where they’re OK’d,” he said.
Attending the Presidential Inaugural Conference doesn’t come cheap.
Tristan and his family are responsible for the entire cost of the trip, “all 3,200 bucks,” plus airfare, he said.
Yet, his mother, Kari Farquharson, is confident the experience is worth the expense.
To the best of her knowledge, Tristan is the first Craig resident in recent memory to attend a presidential inauguration, she said.
“I just hope it teaches him to think outside his comfort zone and understand new ideas,” she said.
Tristan doesn’t plan on running for president.
Instead, he said he's thinking about becoming a math and science teacher or a pyrotechnician.
An article he stumbled across this year further spurred his interest in the latter.
He read about a college in Wisconsin where “all you do is blow stuff up” once the written component is out of the way, he said.
But although an office at the White House may not be in his future, Tristan is honored that someone from Craig will have a chance to see history in the making.
Even if another local student went to the conference instead, “it would still be amazing,” he said.
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