ELKHART — A group of teachers from Concord High School left Sunday morning to catch a glimpse of history when President Barack Obama is sworn in for a second term in Washington D.C.
The trip, which began early Sunday morning, is another chapter for the group who saw Obama up close four years ago as a candidate and later as president when he visited their school.
Among those going are Chris Judson, an English teacher; Wayne Sousley, media technology coordinator; Matt Furfaro, a government teacher; and Natalie Furfaro, a business teacher.
Most of the group had been sharing their thoughts together as the campaign unfolded and often tweeted and texted their opinions during the debates and on election night.
The idea of trekking to the nation’s capital first came up as they watched election results.
“I think it was Matt who had the crazy idea of ... going to the inauguration,” Judson said. “This is probably one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences where we’re all interested in doing it and it’s a moment in our lives when we could go see it.”
All four educators said they’ve seen their political preferences shift to the left in recent years.
Judson, 46, said he thinks Obama is more of a centrist than some people would suggest.
Judson shook hands with the president during one of his visits and admits that probably swayed his opinion of Obama, but he and the others said the president’s policies play an important role in their opinions.
While Judson admits he’s not been happy with Obama’s education policies, he likes much of what the president is trying to do.
Judson also said he’s been disappointed with some of the Republican rhetoric involving gun control, claims that Obama is a socialist and accusations that the president participated in an “apology tour.”
In fact, he said he think the president and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have done a good job of improving foreign relations.
Judson remains open-minded about future political leanings, but wonders “when will the GOP get their act together?”
Sousley, 58, said he’s excited about the trip.
“I voted for Obama, but it’s beyond that,” Sousley said. “More importantly, I wanted to see a presidential inauguration in D.C. I just thought it would be a great event to participate in.”
Furfaro, who will turn 40 when the group heads home Tuesday, is looking forward to seeing the nation’s first African-American president join a select list of presidents to be re-elected.
Furfaro said he will soak in the significance of the event and appreciates “knowing that my kids are growing up with one more barrier knocked down.”
Ever the teacher, Furfaro notes that Obama will join Franklin D. Roosevelt as the only two presidents in U.S. history to have been sworn in four times.
While Roosevelt was elected to four terms, Obama shares the significance because of two oddities. In his first inauguration, he had to be sworn in a second time because of a mistake made by Supreme Court Justice John Roberts.
Obama was officially sworn in Sunday to conform with the Constitutional stipulation that it happen on Jan. 20, and will do it again for ceremonial reasons Monday.
Furfaro regards Obama’s connection to Concord as a great memory and an excellent teaching opportunity, but said candidate Obama still had to win him over with his policies.
“He’s a great speaker. He’s very engaging. I enjoy listening to him,” Furfaro said.
He said he hopes to hear something memorable from Obama that could be viewed eventually as historic. He’s also wants to hear a grand vision more than a policy speech and one that extends an olive branch to Republicans.
“America doesn’t want a divided country,” Furfaro said.
Natalie Furfaro, 37, said she wasn’t as engaged in chatting about the campaign as the others, but is excited to witness history and bring home the memories.
“I’m just looking forward to a great experience to take in, but also, to share with my family, with my children and with my students,” she said.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The original version of this story originally listed former President Roosevelt's name incorrectly. The current version is correct.