Inauguration Notebook: Get an Inauguration Day flag ... islanders witness historic event ... inauguration potluck celebration tonight ...

Students in Christopher Wolf
Students in Christopher Wolf's humanities class at Friday Harbor Middle School watch President Barack Obama's inauguration this morning. Classes at Friday Harbor Middle School, Friday Harbor High School and Spring Street International School watched the inauguration and discussed the historic event.
— image credit: Scott Rasmussen

San Juans went for Obama:
San Juan County residents cast 7,374 votes for Barack Obama and Joe Biden in the Nov. 4 general election. That's 70 percent of all ballots cast.

Inauguration was shown in most classrooms: Friday Harbor Middle School Principal Ann Spratt said teachers determined whether the inaugural ceremony would be broadcast in their classrooms and, for those that did, how to incorporate it into the curriculum.

A quick trip through the halls revealed most of the faculty, perhaps all, took the time to tune into today's event.

Spratt said the school, like Switzerland, remains steadfastly neutral in the political arena. However, she noted a presidential inauguration offers a unique opportunity to showcase the culmination of the American political process and the peaceful transfer of presidential powers from one administration to the next.

"It's not the outcome but the exercise of voting, and the political process, that we're focused on," she said. "Our job isn't to pick a side. But an event like this reinforces that this is what we do in America, we vote."

Tying historical events together:
At Spring Street International School, Inauguration Day was an opportunity to connect the dots.

The day began with a general assembly during first and second periods that featured a double-dose of U.S. milestones. Prior to watching the inauguration in real-time on satellite feed, students got a glimpse of just how far the nation has come in bridging its racial divide by watching historic footage of Dr. Martin Luther King delivering his "I Have A Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial some 45 years ago.

With the inauguration of Barack Obama as the nation's 44th president occurring the day after the national holiday honoring Dr. King, Spring Street Director of Operations Jerry Riley said that school officials wanted to try and tie together the past, present and future by placing two historic events side by side. He was pleased with the outcome.

"It's an incredible linkage," Riley said. "I think (the students) were hit pretty strong by the moment. We definitely wanted to make a special day out of it."

The assembly featured poetry readings and refreshments provided by parents, some of whom, along with several teachers, offered personal recollections of the civil rights struggles of the past and thoughts on what Obama's presidency may mean for the future. Such reminders, Riley said, may prove instructive for a generation which in large part accepts racial equality as a place "where we should be."

"It's a very momentous occasion and I think they understand that," he said. "But a number of students commented about America being a young country and a country of change and they're ready to embrace it, and they're excited about moving forward."

Several islanders witness inauguration: Several San Juan County residents are in Washington, D.C., for the inauguration: Among them, Woody Ciskowski of Orcas Island; Randall Gaylord of Orcas Island and his daughter, Genevieve; Jamie Stephens of Lopez Island; Chris, Kate and Arla Sutton of Orcas Island; Jim and Kathleen Youngren of Orcas Island.

Derin Ross, a San Juan Island native now living in Rock Springs, Wyo., will also attend the inauguration.

Ciskowski, a student at Western Washington University, will attend an inaugural ball.

This is the second inauguration for Gaylord. In 1969, he accompanied his parents to the inauguration of Richard M. Nixon as the 37th president.

"I want to make sure I balance that one out," Gaylord said in an earlier interview. "I think it's important to mark big events in life, to do something that brings it home, then it becomes a part of our life. I want this to be a part of my life. That's why I'm going."

The Gaylords lucked out on accommodations; they are staying with friends of his sister. Likewise, Stephens' daughter, Jessica, attends Georgetown University; Stephens said he planned to spend the night in his daughter's dorm room.

Community potluck tonight at Friday Harbor High School: A community potluck will be held in Friday Harbor tonight to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama as the nation's 44th president.

The event, sponsored by organizers of Democracy Corner and other local progressives, begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Friday Harbor High School Commons.

At 6:30, the morning’s inauguration ceremony will be shown, followed by Obama’s inaugural address.

Participants are encouraged to bring a food dish to share, plus their own plates and silverware.

The event is free and open to the public.

Own an Inauguration Day flag: Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed's office is making available U.S. flags that are being flown over the state Capitol today in commemoration of Barack Obama’s inauguration.

The 3 by 5 flags are at a discounted cost of $14 if obtained at the front desk of the secretary’s office on the second floor of the Capitol, or $17.25 by mail. Each will have a certificate, state seal and secretary’s signature.

Any proceeds will go to the State Capitol historical furnishings fund. For more information, call Suzette Black at (360) 902-4151.

'This is a day of promise': “We join all Washingtonians in honoring our new 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, and concur with his call for national renewal, shared sacrifice and a great generosity of spirit," Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed said in Olympia after the president took the oath of office.

"These are trying times for our state and nation and world, but together we will endure and prevail as we faithfully exercise our duties of citizenship, as neighbors, as family, with civility and compassion and care.

“It was a long, hard-fought campaign that sometimes divided us, but now let us unite and support our new administration. This is a magical time, a time of possibility for our country, but we have not elected a magician, but a man. Let us go forward with patience and resolve. This is a day of promise.”

'We are free at last ...: "With regard to our President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama and in the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King, 'Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we are free at last!" — Mary and Smithy Smith, San Juan Island

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