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Manhattan Students D.C bound

Cyril Josh Barker | 4/12/2011, 4:39 p.m.

One group of high school students is going from Washington Heights to Washington, D.C. for the experience of a lifetime. Fifty students from the High School for Law and Public Service at the George Washington Educational Campus were selected to take a field trip to witness the Inauguration of Barack Obama.

The students had to write an essay about what Barack Obama means to them in order to win spot on the bus for a day trip to the inauguration. Social Studies teachers Amy Conners and Neal Garfinkle came up with the idea.

"We had over 100 submissions," said Conners. "We wish we could take the whole school but we were only able to take a limited number."

Conners added that the selection process for the essays was diffcult and that the announcement was much anticipated by the students. The standards for the winners were "very strict" and the students' grades and conduct were not a factor.

"Our school was very excited about the election so I said 'Let's have an essay contest,'" said Garfinkle. "The contest was very difficult and the response we had was fanatic. What better way to get the students engaged?"

Garfinkle and Conners said the winners were announced via a bulletin board. Many students were happy about winning but there were some who shed tears for not winning a spot on the trip.

Xiomare Rodriguez, 16, said that she feels "honored" to be able to go on the trip.

She said, "I'm going to be apart of history and it's going to be an event to remember. I'm looking forward to his speech and what he's wiling to offer."

Growing up without a father the trip to Kelvin Deleon takes on a special meaning. The 16-year-old said he sees Obama as an example to him on how a father figure should be.

"When I saw Obama get elected my whole life changed," he said. "My perspective of the United States changed. He has proven to me that anyone can make it."

The students plan to leave for Washington, D.C. at 4am next Tuesday with an arrival to the nation's capitol by 8am. Conners and Garfinkle said that many of the students plan on having sleepovers in order to make signs or not miss the bus.