Students, retirees share historic trip

Expect to see some Superior folks in the crowd during today's presidential inauguration. Six Superior High School students plan to attend, along with a retired couple from the town of Superior.

Superior High School students in the Upward Bound Program pose with their chaperones at the Duluth International Airport Thursday before flying to Washington, D.C. for the presidential inauguration. They are, left to right, Madison Glenn, program director Angie Hugdahl, Rachael Tuve, Grace Viklun, Brett Severson, Sadie LaJoie, Bailey Lynch and program coordinator Justin Markon.

Expect to see some Superior folks in the crowd during today's presidential inauguration. Six Superior High School students plan to attend, along with a retired couple from the town of Superior.

Hands-on history

"I'm a history nerd," said senior Rachael Tuve, one of the six students traveling to Washington, D.C. through the University of Wisconsin-Superior's Upward Bound Program. "It'll give me a chance to literally be part of history."

Program director Angie Hugdahl was able to snag six inauguration tickets from Sen. Tammy Baldwin's office. It was a perfect fit for the federally-funded program aimed at preparing students for success in postsecondary education.

"Part of being in Upward Bound is having opportunities they wouldn't normally have," Hugdahl said, activities that "set them up to be successful, not just in high school, but life as well."


The inaugural trip fit the bill.

"It's definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity," said junior Sadie LaJoie. "We're all, two-thirds of us are low income, and we're all first generation college students. How many of us could say that we went to a presidential inauguration?"

The program has 56 students, however.

Teens interested in attending had to answer four essay questions about their interest in history, why they wanted to attend the inauguration, and how they've contributed to the Upward Bound Program to date.

"The essays were fabulous," Hugdahl said. "It was hard to narrow it down to six."

Written before the country's leader was chosen, they reflected an interest in history instead of specific candidates.

"Being able to go would make me feel as if I was there for an important part of history, whether it be the first female president or the first non-politician in office," wrote junior Grace Vicklun. "Being able to say 'I was there' would mean a great deal to me knowing someday kids will be learning this in history class."

Tuve was disappointed that she wasn't able to vote in November, although many of her friends could.


"I think it will maybe offset a little bit because they got to be part of choosing a president, but I'll be there when he becomes president," Tuve said.

Green and gold

Mike and Lynne Kapalin debated bringing their Cheeseheads to the presidential inauguration. In the end, the town of Superior couple decided their Green Bay Packers rain ponchos would be enough.

"They will know we're from Wisconsin," said Mike Kapalin.

The couple scored a pair of tickets from Congressman Sean Duffy, R-Weston, through a district-wide lottery that kicked off in November.

A member of the East Central Energy board of directors, Kapalin has traveled to Washington D.C. five times. He's gone with his wife, shared breakfast with senators and brought his parents to the city - a chance for his father, a Korean War veteran, to visit the Korean War Veterans Memorial.

This trip will offer something new.

"I've never been to a presidential inauguration," said Kapalin, who grew up in Green Bay. "It's kind of like going to the Super Bowl."


Which, by the way, he's done.

"My wife and I went to Super Bowl 31," Kapalin said, and watched Brett Favre lead the Packers to a victory over the New England Patriots.

Knowing he will attend the inauguration is mind-boggling, Kapalin said.

"I don't care if it's Democrat or Republican," he said. "Just the chance to see something like this first hand ..."

The pair, who both retired from UWS, mulled the idea of attending the inaugural ball, but decided the inauguration itself would do.

"When you have a change like this, between presidents, it's so nice to see what we can do to make it better," Kapalin said. "And we hope and pray for the best."

Once they knew they won the tickets, the couple had to figure out where to stay.

"To try to find rooms was impossible," Kapalin said.


Eventually, they found accommodations in College Park, Maryland. It's one of the Metro's northernmost stops, so they can tap public transportation to get around.

The pair studied the list of dos and don'ts for the big event. Identification is a must. Items are restricted, but they hope to include a few snacks.

"You can take your phone and wallet," Kapalin said. "You really can't take anything else. It's kind of like a Packer game. You're limited to 12 inches by 14 inches by 5 inches enclosed."

Early Thursday morning, Kapalin snapped a picture of the students at the airport before they flew out together.

Protests and marches

Officials are estimating about 900,000 people will attend the ceremony where Donald J. Trump will become the 45th president of the United States, according to Reuters reporter Ian Simpson.

About 30 groups that organizers claim will draw about 270,000 protestors or Trump backers have received permits for rallies, or marches before, during and after the swearing in, Simpson reported.

"I just saw a news feed yesterday saying the day after the inauguration there's going to be a march in Washington, and it's a day when we're going to be in the middle of the city," Tuve said. "That'll be interesting. We'll be in the middle of the chaos."


Well, she added, more like controlled chaos.

"I definitely think there's going to be chaos," LaJoie said. "Especially who the president is, but I think we'll be safe, and I know that they've planned this all well."

Kapalin said he isn't going to let concerns about protests or possible terrorist threats keep him from the event.

"You can let terrorists control your life or do something about it," he said. "Go ahead and live your life."

He and his wife will return Saturday with memories and lots of pictures.

In addition to the inauguration, the Superior students will tour the Smithsonian museums, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Arlington National Cemetery and a spy museum during their four-day trip. They also plan to visit Baldwin at her office.

Students in the Upward Bound program attend weekly tutoring sessions, monthly Saturday get-togethers and a six-week summer program. During one of those weeks, they take a trip to explore colleges in other areas of the country. LaJoie has been to New York, Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio.

"You get out of it what you put into it," she said of the program.


The students said this adventure will bring with it many firsts - first ride on the Metro, first dinner cruise, first visit to D.C., and of course, first inauguration.

"There are very few things that you can plan to take part of that are guaranteed to become a historical marker of our country," wrote sophomore Madi Glenn.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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