"A dream we dream alone is just a dream. A dream we dream together is reality."
— Derek Maiolo, 16, MCHS student body vice president, quoting John Lennon about the importance of community support
It’s been called a chance of a lifetime and a trip to ignite life-long passions.
It’s also an event few people get the opportunity to experience live, and in person.
Between George Washington and Barack Obama only 44 people have been elected to the highest office in the land, serving 56 terms in more than 223 years of U.S. presidential history.
Last week a quartet of Moffat County High School leaders began a fundraising campaign in hopes of attending the 57th presidential inauguration in January.
“We’re all involved in government obviously, but I’ve been involved at the state level for the last year and I’ve gotten a lot out of that experience,” said Nicole Ferree, 16, MCHS student body president. “Even thinking about government at the state level, it doesn’t compare to what goes on in Washington D.C. I think it would be so interesting to expose myself to it and learn about government at a national level.”
Ferree, along with Derek Maiolo, 16, MCHS student body vice president; Caitlin Harjes, 16, junior class president; and Abigail Gonzales, 15, MCHS student council historian/recorder; are trying to participate in WorldStrides, a high school touring program that organizes a variety of educational trips for students all over the country.
But the opportunity carries a hefty fee of about $11,000. As of Thursday, the four student council students had raised $950.
But they had only kicked off their publicity campaign two days earlier with presentations before the Moffat County Commission and Craig City Council.
“We knew going into the city council meeting and the commission meetings that they wouldn’t contribute much, if anything, (of the taxpayer’s money) and that really wasn’t our goal,” Maiolo said. “We just wanted to put our message out there and get people interested in our journey.”
Though the students are relishing the opportunity to hone their public speaking skills, they admit it’s difficult asking the community for financial support.
“It is really hard and we know it’s hard on the community because economic times are so tough,” Maiolo said.
“We don’t want to say, ‘Hey, we want money,’” Harjes added. “We just want people to know we need and appreciate their support.”
And in return, Ferree said the community would be making an investment in the young people of Craig, who are not only passionate about the government process, but are also interested in sharing their views and successes with high school students from all over the country.
“From my experience with the state I’ve noticed that our student council is a lot more involved with local government,” Ferree said. “Usually student councils are all about getting a dance together, so I would definitely want to influence other kids to get involved with their local government.”
One of the initiatives the members of the student council want to share with their counterparts around the country is the MCHS seatbelt program.
“I want to share with other people the programs we’ve implemented here, like the seatbelt program,” Harjes said. “If every school picked that up all across the United States it would be huge, it would be awesome.”
Though the students have plans to raise some of the cost themselves through bake sales, hosting an adult prom and applying for local grants through Friends of Moffat County Education, Kiwanis and the Parrot Heads, among others, they know they won’t be able to realize their dream of attending the inauguration without private donations.
Maiolo channeled The Beatles in citing the importance of the community backing their trip.
"A dream we dream alone is just a dream,” Maiolo said quoting John Lennon. “A dream we dream together is reality."
For more information about the trip, contact the MCHS sponsor David Grabowski at 826-6551.
Contributions, by check, may be sent to Moffat County High School, 900 Finley Lane, Craig, CO 81625. Cite “inauguration” in the memo line.
Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.