St. Michael-Albertville Middle Schooler Attends Presidential Inauguration
Tyler Westerlund, a St Michael-Albertville Middle School East sixth- grader, was selected to travel with the People to People organization to Washington D.C. in January.
Tyler Westerlund, 12, never expected his education about presidents of the United States would come full circle in such a "neat" way.
The St. Michael-Albertville Middle School East sixth-grader attended Pres. Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony in Washington D.C. in January. He was nominated by his teacher to attend with the People to People organization with a group of students from around the country and world.
"The experience was great," Westerlund said. "It was neat being in something that our nation does to hand over power from one person to another — the power we give to someone to lead our nation with its troubles and successes."
Although the crowd was "a mass hoard of people" and he couldn't see much from where he was standing "because other heads were taller than me," he learned from listening to the speech and the oath. He recalled lessons about past presidents in social studies class and how the current times tie into history. Being in a place where other presidents took their oath was powerful, he said.
His trip included visiting memorials and museums around the area. One highlight of the experience was becoming friends with those in his group from all walks of life. Students came from several other states and countries like China and India.
"I met tons of new people," he said. "When I look back, I remember all of the people I met — the great times telling jokes and laughing."
He encourages his peers and "everyone" to take a trip to the nation's capitol.
"I learned that there are different leadership styles that different leaders hold," he said of the lessons from just sightseeing.
Westerlund's fifth-grade Social Studies teacher recommended him for the program last year. "When this year’s conference was scheduled to be held during the Presidential inauguration, I knew Tyler would be a great person to nominate because he will be able to gain a lot of knowledge on a subject that is already of interest to him," Mr. Jeremy Digiovanni wrote in an email to Patch last October.
It was Westerlund's first venture away from home.
"I just cried a little," said his mother, Erin Westerlund. "I was very proud to know that one of his teachers thought that he would be a good ambassador from our community, and would learn from the experience."
She said she thinks the best part for him was going outside his comfort zone to meet new people.
"He learned he can go out and have a great time, even though it's uncomfortable at first," she said. "There are a lot of great people in the world, and it's fun to meet them, learn about them, and make new friends from different places."