Students Raising Money to Attend Inauguration

Some of the Claremont Middle School students are: Back row – Xochi Heather-George, Sal Beeby, Kayla Keith, Nico Reno, Gabriel Ali, Jack Black, Tanner Anderson, Eli Parker, Leon Cole, Henry Moore, Sonia Aronson, Annika Prager, Natalie Foster; Front row: Aracely Borja, Zakiyah Stiggs, Jazmyn Gray, Sequoia Jackson, Lucy Flattery-Vickness, Grace Brekke, Sophie Schafer, Diamond Armstrong. Photo by Claudette Center.

A field trip to Washington D.C. may be a staple of American education, but when you’re traveling 3,000 miles to visit the national’s capital for a president’s inauguration, it can get complicated – and expensive. But the obstacles have not deterred eighth graders at Oakland’s Claremont Middle School, who have organized a fundraising campaign to attend President Barack Obama’s inauguration in January 2013. Many of the students cannot afford the trip, and most have never been to the East Coast, but they’ve been baking, vending, scraping and saving to collect money to make the trip. Under the leadership of 8th grade teacher Claudette Center, 46 eighth graders have registered to go to Washington D.C. —which is expected to cost in excess of $79,000. Of the 46 students, 26 submitted either full or partial scholarship requests totaling $22,300. Claremont parent Jean Parker has helped spearhead fundraising efforts, and says the first order of business is to ensure all the students can go. “While we would like to raise enough to assist all students with the trip costs, we have made funding scholarship requests our first priority,” Parker said. “At the December parent meeting, we determined we had $20,723, enough to fund 90 percent of the scholarships. We are continuing to fundraise so we can meet 100 percent of the scholarship requests.” None of this would have been possible without the leadership of the teacher, who contributed seed money to get the project started and has donated countless hours to the cause of exposing Oakland children to the workings of American government. “It has been a goal of mine to include a trip to Washington, D.C. as an integrated part of US History 8th Grade Curriculum,” Center explained.  “I had hoped to enroll possibly 25 to 30 students, and I’m proud that the number has swelled to 46 students!” Parent Teacher Association (PTA) fundraising, individual parent contributions, bake sales, candy sales, books sales, barbecues and raffles accounted for much of the additional $12,000.  Salesforce, Credo Mobile and local realtor Ron Kriss made donations. Students will be chaperoned by teachers and parents. The students will travel under the Smithsonian Student Travel package, which includes airfare, accommodations, meals, entrance fees and two tour guides. Anyone who would like to help the young scholars visit Washington D.C., please visit: and choose “8th Grade DC Trip January 2013” from the pulldown menu.
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