Mom's past and students' hopeful futures make for beautiful lens to Inauguration Day

  • Article by: PAM LOUWAGIE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 19, 2009 - 11:13 PM

PHILADELPHIA -- Callie Lalugba balanced in the aisle of the motor coach as it lurched over bumps and swayed around curves. Her voice, strong and piercing over a microphone, was anything but shaky.

As principal of Minneapolis' Harvest Prep School, which chartered the bus to today's presidential inauguration, Lalugba was building on her students' anticipation.

"I do solemnly swear," she led the students and adults on the bus in reciting and later studying the oath of office that Barack Obama will take today, "that I will faithfully execute the office of the president ..."

Lalugba, 33, is on a mission to make sure her students learn as much as possible on their trip. And she'll be there with someone special -- her mother, a high school home economics teacher who flew from Texas to Minneapolis so she could make the bus trip, too.

Sharing the event through the lens of her mother's past and her students' hopes is "beautiful," Lalugba said. "There's no other way to describe it." Lalugba and other school leaders have turned the bus ride into one long learning lab -- reading speeches, watching movies and discussing tough questions.

"Barack made a huge step, but we've got a lot more steps to go,'' she told the group. "We have some healing that has to be processed, and we have changes that need to be made in our community. We need to restore our families, and it's going to take our students to do that."

Witnessing history today, she said, may spark something in students to push themselves further and achieve more.

"I hope you can look at Barack's life and say, 'Man, he made a lot of sacrifice. He did things that he probably did not want to do, but he had to do. And look where he is now,'"she said. "Look where he is now."

She ended the lesson by passing the microphone around, so the students could saying what they hoped to be when they grow up and what kind of attitude they'll need to achieve it. There were future lawyers, a veterinarian, a teacher, an architect, a pediatrician, a pilot and engineer.

"I just hope when they see this sea of people, how you as an individual can impact the world," she said later. "I hope they have an aha moment."

And she's confident they will.

"I have no doubt that every one of my students will be exceptional," she said.

Pam Louwagie • 612-673-7102

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    Monday January 19, 2009

    Main Street Inaugural Ball: Sponsored by the DFL Constituent Caucuses. Formal attire encouraged. Enjoy music and dancing. 7 p.m. today. $20. Hopkins Center for the Arts, 1111 Mainstreet, Hopkins. 952-979-1100.

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