Last Monday, 44 Waterford High School students witnessed history.
On Thursday, approximately 12 of those 44 students, along with teachers Brett Arnold, Colleen Lineburgh and Joseph Bonillo, gave a presentation to the Board of Education about their three-day visit last week to Washington, D.C., to see the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Along with watching the inauguration, the group visited several Smithsonian museums, several of the presidential monuments and, in what the group agreed was the most moving visit of all, Arlington National Cemetery.
“It was really, for me, the trip of a lifetime,” Arnold said.
The high school took 44 juniors and seniors, all of which voluntarily agreed to go on the trip and paid their own way. While the inauguration was impressive, and being in a crowd of a million people was a unique experience, the group agreed visiting Arlington National Cemetery was the best part.
There, they visited the graves of Arnold Holm and Kemaphoom "Ahn" Chanawongse, two Waterford High School graduates who died serving overseas. They also visited the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, and laid a Waterford High School wreath in front of the headstone.
“That was absolutely amazing,” said Waterford senior Chris Venditti, who is planning on joining the military after graduation. “I think it hasn’t even set in yet.”
Lineburgh said the students were “great” on the three-day visit throughout the nation’s capital. They left early Sunday morning and got back late Tuesday night, and were on the go the entire time.
The latest they slept on any day was 6:30 a.m., Lineburgh said. Each day, the students spent hours visiting the many memorials and museums throughout Washington, and were exhausted by the time they got into the hotel at around 11 each night, she said.
"While I am obviously thankful to the Board of Education, Superintendent (Jerome) Belair and Principal (Don) Macrino for approving this trip and Brett Arnold for organizing it, I am infinitely more thankful to the 44 students that went on the trip,” Bonillo said. “They were responsible, respectful and thoughtful of others throughout and represented the town exceptionally well."