"The event was very patriotic," said Christian Gardiner, 17, a Tamaqua Senior who attended yesterday's Presidential Inauguration celebration in Washington D.C.

Gardiner was one of a few high school student scholars from our area to take part in the celebration.

As part of the High School Presidential Inaugural Conference, student scholars were provided with a deeper understanding of the history behind the electoral process and its rich traditions surrounding the Presidential Inauguration.

"The High School Presidential Inaugural Conference provided students with the opportunity to take part in historic events that coincide with the Inauguration of the president of the United States," said Marguerite Regan, dean of Academic Affairs for the Presidential Inaugural Conference. "Something that is really wonderful about so many young people gathering in Washington, D.C. for this event is that it provided them a chance to become more familiar with and attuned to the president who will govern the United States over the next four years. We certainly hope this will inspire the next generation of leaders."

One of their programs consisted of them meeting the national president of the College Democrats of America and national chairman of the College Republican National Committee, who provided Inaugural Scholars with insight into their election campaign strategies and provided important and valuable information on how Inaugural Scholars can be leaders and step up for the party of their choice by taking part in Republican or Democratic political activities in their area and in school.

"President Barack Obama's speech was very good," said Gardiner. "I think the president did a great job of catching the audience."

Other events included entertainment with music and political satire, setting up simulated campaign trails, debriefing by Condoleezza Rice (former U.S. Secretary of State and National Security adviser to the president, exclusive access to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, a special viewing party and celebratory luncheon with presidential trivia and prizes, presidential group meeting, Inauguration evening concert, keynote speaker presentation by General Wesley Clark (former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, four-star general and presidential candidate), the Black Tie and Gown Gala Inaugural Celebration and others.

In addition, students were given the opportunity to interact with historians, political experts and leading decision makers to discuss campaign strategy and presidential politics. Inaugural Scholars also attended a special viewing party and luncheon where they watched, on large screen televisions, the grandeur of the inaugural parade, as the president, vice president and their families made their way down Pennsylvania Avenue from the U.S. Capitol Building to the White House.

To further commemorate Inauguration Day, students attended an exclusive Gala Inaugural Celebration just for them.

For additional information on the High School Presidential Inaugural Conference, visit www.inauguralscholar.com/hs.

"It was great to see so many people waving American flags at one location," added Gardiner, describing the heavily-patriotic atmosphere around the National Mall. "The energy was so impressive."