High school student heads to inaugurationby Nikki Tundel, Minnesota Public Radio,
Steven John, Minnesota Public Radio
People around the country are scrambling and scrounging to get tickets for Tuesday's presidential inaugural ceremonies. Not Erik Vergiels. The Fergus Falls high schooler has had his ticket for months.
Vergiels, 15, will be attending Barack Obama's inauguration as part of the five-day Presidential Youth Inaugural Conference. It was a teacher's nomination that landed the Minnesota student in the national leadership program.
Vergiels admits Obama wasn't his first choice to lead the nation. If he were old enough to vote, the high school sophomore would have cast his ballot for Republican John McCain. But that doesn't mean he wouldn't love to meet the president-elect.
"I would say, 'I'm very honored to meet you, Mr. Obama.' And, 'Good luck.' That's what I would say," said Vergiels. "Americans, no matter Republican or Democrat or independent, Americans should support the president, whoever it may be."
Vergiels says he's thrilled to be able to witness history firsthand. He loves politics and last year served as class president.
"Nothing too hard about it. Remember, it's basic high school class positions. You don't really get to do that much."
Eventually he's hoping to move on to more challenging political posts. And Vergiels doesn't rule out running for U.S. president himself someday. For now, though, the teenager's focus is on choosing the right attire for all the inaugural events he'll be attending.
"There's no day when you should be wearing causal, unless if you're in your hotel room. If you're in there, you can wear casual because you don't have any place to go to," said Vergiels. "But you should wear like polo shirts, sports jackets. And then we have to go to a ball where you should be very dressed up, more like a tuxedo with a bow tie."
"I'm imagining it to be like a fancier Snow Ball, because Snow Ball here is a pretty fancy event. But it's really just a lot of dancing."
Erik Vergiels will be dancing Tuesday night away at one of the many galas being held in conjunction with Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony. This year there will be 10 official inaugural balls, and countless unofficial ones.
- All Things Considered, 01/16/2009, 5:50 p.m.
Nikki Tundel reports and produces stories for MPR News' Minnesota Mix project.