"It was an outstanding trip," McNamee said. "It's one of those events where the students can say they were a part of history. We visited several historic sites, and they were able to actually see many of the things we've talked about in class."
The group left Rector in the early morning of Saturday, Jan. 19, departing at approximately 2 a.m. They returned at around the same time the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 23.
"We tried to cram as much as we could into those four days," McNamee said. "Really, you could spend a week there visiting the sites the entire time and still not see everything."
The group toured the Smithsonian Natural History, American History and Air and Space Museums as well as Arlington National Cemetery and the Mt. Vernon home of George Washington. They were also able to enter the Capitol Building and the Library of Congress. The group stopped by the White House and Supreme Court for photos outside, as well. The visitors from Rector also toured the National Mall, viewing the Lincoln, Vietnam Veterans, Korean War Veterans, World War II, Jefferson and Roosevelt Memorials, as well as the Washington Monument.
"I think the entire scope of everything surprised them," McNamee said. "You have a vision in your mind of what these things are like, but when you're actually able to see them in person, it puts it into perspective."
The group stayed in a hotel near Ft. Meade, traveling into the city each day.
With the large number of visitors attending the inauguration, the group left the hotel at 5:15 a.m. to reach the city. With so many attending, several streets around the area were blocked off, leaving the students to walk two miles to reach the National Mall.
While the young students appreciated the historical impact of the inauguration, the popular aspects of the event also stood out in their minds.
"They enjoyed Obama's speech," McNamee said, "but they really enjoyed getting to see Beyonce' and Kelly Clarkson"
The inauguration began at 11:30 a.m. and was essentially completed by 1:30 p.m.
"It was very tiring, but it was also one of those unique moments in history," McNamee said. "We had a great time."
McNamee says she will likely take more students to Washington, D.C. For regular touring trips, as well as to the next inauguration in four years.
"It's definitely something I would like to do again. I think it's something the students can learn from and enjoy. With this being our first trip, I wanted to keep it a smaller group. In the future, I think I'll open it up to more classes."
The group raised funds for the visit by selling barbecue at the home football games and operating concessions during the Rector Community Center Craft Show.