On April 30th the Chenango Valley Political Science Club took a trip to Washington, D.C. to get an up-close look at how our government is run. A few weeks before, we contacted a Heather Higginbottom, a former CV student who now works in the White House, to see if she was able to get us into a White House tour. Around 10AM while driving down to D.C. on the 30th, we received a call from one of her aids, Rose, who let us know we're going to be able to tour the White House. When we arrived in D.C., we first visited the Newseum, but then quickly went over to where the W.H. tour entrance was. Before the tour began, our special tour guide that Heather Higginbottom provided said "This is the secret, we're going to watch Marine One take off from the South Lawn." None of the us really expected the president to be on the helicopter, we just assumed it was an empty take off. During the tour, we finally asked "Is the president going to get on the helicopter?" . . . and she said yes.
At this point, we don't even know how to respond. We're excited, scared, and really confused at how this was happening to us. After the tour, we back-traced our steps to a door that goes to the South Lawn. Secret Service informed us how to respond if anything went wrong ("Don't scatter, just come right back here. This is your safe zone.") and then they let us go out before the rest of the visitors so we could get into the front of the barrier (really it's only a rope).
We stood on the South Lawn with anticipation, none of us knew what to expect. The tour guide said that he comes over to shake hands every once in a while, but at that point we still didn't think it was possible. We finally see Marine One fly over the Washington Monument and come towards the South Lawn. We watch it land, turn off it's engine, and then we waited. Anytime someone moved by the door the president was going to walk out of we all jumped. Finally, President Obama walks out. While he's walking, he notices Heather Higginbottom who joined up with our group during the tour, so he walks over and says "What are you doing here?" She explains we're from the school she graduated from, and that we're visiting the White House. He walks down the line and shakes our hands. Right before he got to me, he started walking away, but I extended my hand and yelled "Mr. President" so he turned around, came back, and shook my hand.
We still don't understand what happened. None of us believe it. We all called our parents, they only believed us because our voices were shaking. This just isn't something that happens, but somehow it did.
The Political Science club would like to thank Heather Higginbottom for spending so much time trying to get us into the White House tour and for getting us to meet the President. Her aid, Rose, who spent countless hours on the phone with our adviser trying to figure out how we could get this to work. Our special tour guide, Kamilia, who was very informative - and she was as excited as we were to meet the president. Our chaperone, Mr. Tidick, who provided great humor on the trip there and back. And most of all, our adviser, Mr. Clark who spent hours and hours trying to get this trip planned, and who put up with us using his room to debate.