Local students hope to attend inauguration

LOS ANGELES "It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing and it's going to be amazing," said Kevin Maghakian, Verdugo Hills High School.

"It's kind of surreal. I never really thought it would happen. When he got elected, I was kind of suspicious. I was like, 'No, this can't be happening.' It's finally sinking in," said Morgan Bell, Crenshaw High School.

They come from worlds apart: Verdugo Hills High School in Tujunga and Crenshaw High School in southwest Los Angeles. A group from each school will be in Washington, D.C. on Inauguration Day to witness history.

An educational foundation called "Close Up" is sponsoring the trip. All of them signed up back in April, long before anyone knew who would be taking the oath of office. Verdugo Hills student Mary Martinez supported John McCain, but she is thrilled to be going anyway.

"I'm going to be meeting people from all over the country who come from different backgrounds and lifestyles," said Martinez.

The trip symbolizes something different to Crenshaw student and Obama supporter Raheem Giddens.

"Seeing an African-American president sworn in gives me hope and really motivates me to do better at whatever I'm doing to show that I can do the best ... I can be a president if I really want to," said Giddens. "I never thought Raheem Giddens could be president. I never thought that. But now I have the sense that I can do it."

However, there is one more thing they have to do: pay for the trip. The Verdugo Hills students are all paid for. The Crenshaw students are still about $10,000 short, with less than a week to go until the deadline.

If you want to help the kids at Crenshaw High School make it to the inauguration, you can send them a tax-deductible donation to:

Close Up Foundation
Crenshaw High School
5010 11th Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90043
Attn: Beverly Silverstein

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