"I think it's an inspiration to all kids in that they can reach -- the sky is actually the limit and you can work real hard and stay focused," said Anita Jefferson, parent.
For these South Side teens, their journey to witness history is finally poised to take flight.
"This is very important to me because this is the first black president. As a black person, I know I have hope for everything I can achieve my dreams," said Toni Daniels, South Shore student.
"Obama is my guy. He can do stuff really a lot. He is going to be our president," said Jonathan Smith, brother of student going to D.C.
The kids earned their spots with good grades and citizenship through a two-year partnership program with United Airlines who is picking up the entire tab for the trip.
"United is taking care of the hotel accommodations, the plane tickets, as well as each kid is receiving a camera and a journal so they can document their experiences. It's just a wonderful opportunity, once in a lifetime," said Douglas Maclin, principal, South Shore H.S.
While documenting history in real time, the group hopes to gain and share an experience of community service and a desire to share something else.
"I feel that we should give more hope because Barack Obama gave more hope. Now he is becoming the president Tuesday," said Lakesha Howard, South Shore student.
When the students arrive in D.C. they will begin their community service and then take several tours around the country's capital. Tuesday, they will attend the inauguration. Before they head home, they will have breakfast with Illinois Senator Roland Burris.