Home » Boyle Heights In Focus, Featured » Boyle Heights students head to Washington for presidential inauguration

Photo from Salesian High School project blog

Photo from Salesian High School project blog

For the second time in four years, student journalists from Bishop Mora Salesian High School in Boyle Heights will travel to Washington, D.C. to witness President Barack Obama get sworn into office.

Seniors Gerardo Gonzalez, David Manrique and Marco Rivera, along with journalism teacher Guillermo Vidaurri, will be present at the country’s 57th presidential inauguration ceremony on Monday, Jan. 21.

The students were selected by 34th Congressional District Rep. Xavier Becerra’s office to receive the tickets for the historic event just after New Year’s Day.

Vidaurri and his students created a fundraising website to help pay for the trip’s expenses– an estimated $1,250.

The group was hoping to raise $5,000 for the trip and had raised just under half that amount when global, sports and entertainment giant Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), owners of the Staples Center in downtown L.A., pledged to donate $3,000 to help meet their goal.

According to Vidaurri, AEG officials viewed a televised news report about the trip and fundraiser and contacted the school with their pledge.

AEG will present the check at an event on the school’s grounds Wednesday morning that will be televised live on Telemundo’s morning show, Buenos Dias.

Vidaurri said that prior to AEG’s generous donation, the group had struggled to raise the needed funds.

“I told my students that we are going to have to do some modern-day panhandling,” said Vidaurri, adding that in addition to knocking on doors, they had to go through their email and Facebook contacts to ask for donations.

In addition to attending the inaugural celebrations, the students will also take the opportunity to visit the nation’s capital and will chronicle their trip through social media sites and a blog created specifically for the trip.

“This gives the students an amazing opportunity and experience where they can act like real reporters,” said Vidaurri.

He went on to say that this trip and the media attention it has created is great exposure for the school and that it means a lot to all students.

According to the website, students have high hopes for the trip, as each wants to pursue a career in politics after college.

Rivas will attend Princeton as a political science major, Manrique will also major in political science at DePaul and Gonzalez hopes to study law and political science at Harvard.

“It is an honor beyond words to be able to represent Salesian at such a historic event,” said Gonzalez on the group’s website.

The group plans to engage in community service activities both in Washington during the trip and in Los Angeles upon their return.

“We want to give back to the community and to thank those who donated to the trip,” said Vidaurri.

This will be the second time a group of Salesian students attend a presidential inauguration having made the trip in 2009 for President Obama’s first inauguration. The group will depart Los Angeles on Jan. 19 for their four-day trip.
For more information on the trip, or to donate funds, go to www.gofundme.com/SHStoDC2013.
Gus Ugalde is a print journalist and Boyle Heights native. He is a graduate of both Salesian High School and East Los Angeles College. With writing as his passion, he has had over 500 stories published at several publications throughout Southern California.

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