Local schools prepare for inauguration

January 7, 2009 5:44:52 PM PST
The Carl Sandberg Marching Eagles and the band at King College Prep may be practicing just a little bit harder over the next two weeks. They are among several Chicago area bands that will be marching in the inaugural parade of President-elect Barack Obama on January 20.

Members of the Carl Sandburg High School Marching Eagles fine tune their performance of a routine that will be seen on the national if not international stage.

"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity for our students. I tell them they probably won't realize what they're involved in until they're an old man like me," Stewart Bailey, band birector, Carl Sandburg H.S.

The Orland Park school was invited to march in the inaugural parade in Washington, D.C. on January 20, following Barack Obama's swearing in as the nation's 44th president.

"I hope to do a lot of fun tricks, have a great time and show the president what his town is about," said James Spence Johnson, band member, Carl Sandburg H.S.

"It's a part of history. It's a once in a lifetime experience and, you know, something like this will never come around again. I'm so lucky," said Victoria Zibell, band member, Carl Sandburg H.S.

Zibell is lucky because Sandberg was picked from more than 1,300 applicants.One-hundred and fifty two band members will head to the nation's capital but each student must pay his or her own way at $600 a pop. The government does not pick up the tab. Still, going there is a thrill.

"The marching gods smiled upon us," said Bailey.

Illinois will be well represented during the inauguration. The Junior ROTC for Whitney Young will also march in the parade and the concert band at King College Prep will perform at a band competition and an inaugural gala.

As the band gears up for their trip, they're also hoping to get more gear in the way of band uniforms. They're trying to raise money to pay for outfits and to help offset the costs of the trip. Once they're there, they'll get to see the inauguration, a chance they already know is a special opportunity.

"Our school is named after Martin Luther King and the inauguration is right after his birthday. And it's just a huge significance, the connection and everything he fought for now is actually coming to pass," said Natasha Reese, band member, King H.S.

King College Prep Fundraiser

A fundraiser planned by several neighborhood residents will take place Wednesday, January 7, 2009 at Park 52 in Hyde Park. Donations can also be made through the King College Prep Web site: www.kingcollegeprep.org.