Friday, February 13, 2009

Students at Brighton High Attend Inauguration and Examine the Political Process

The Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States was attended by nearly 2 million people, a record breaking turnout for a historic and symbolic event. Among the hoards gathered on the National Mall on the chilly January morning to welcome the new president were 30+ students from Brighton High School, one of HOME's media lab partner schools.

The students brought video and still cameras along to document the experience and captured some great footage of themselves and their peers at the historic event. Two students in Brighton High's Journalism class, Felton Cotijo and Nelson Silizav, will team up with lab coordinator Stephen LoVerme to create a first hand video memoir of the event.

Cortijo, who snuck away from the group with a friend in order to get a better look describes the experience. "It was touching to see people hugging each other and crying, and how excited they were. It was like hearing your favorite line in a song you like and getting excited." Silieza was also struck by the emotions of his peers and teachers. "I looked over at Mr. Phil", recalls Silieza, "and saw that he was crying. He grew up during segregation." Both students agree that the experience is one they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Jumping back several months, Brighton High School students delved deep into the issues at the heart of the debate of the upcoming election. Teacher Vanessa Foster teamed up with LoVerme for a comprehensive election unit comprised of several projects including a "Letter to the Next President" essay, campaign video ads and a mock election/survey. The mock election had an interesting twist; in addition to a general vote between Obama and McCain, students were asked to choose between two positions on issues such as gun violence, immigration, the war in Iraq, education and the economy, but without specifying which position belonged to which candidate. The election results saw Obama winning by a large margin, but it was observed that McCain gained a significant amount of support on the issues when the candidates were not specified. The election results were visualized in a series of graphs.

To read the letters visit

Leading up to the election the class broke into groups, each being assigned a candidate and an issue. The groups then did research on the issues, each producing a hallway display and and a persuave video ad for their candidate. A compilation of the ads can be viewed on

Traveling back even further in time, students at Social Justice Academy expressed their views on the historic Democratic primary race of 2008 in a 10 minute video called "Becoming President".