Kenwood student in D.C.

By Daschell M. Phillips
Staff Writer

Kenwood Academy High School sophomore Arianna Alexander was chosen by the High School Presidential Inaugural Conference to attend the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C.

The High School Presidential Inaugural Conference is held every four years in conjunction with the inauguration of the president and vice president of the United States. High achieving students are chosen by the National Young Scholars Program (NYSP), the Congressional Youth Leadership Council (CYLC), the National Youth Leadership Forum (NYLF) and the National Society of High School Scholars to attend the inauguration and five-day conference, which will take place from Jan. 19 to Jan. 23.

Students were allowed to bring family members along with them to the conference and receive free room and meals.

“I am happy that I got the opportunity to bring my family,” said Alexander, who will travel by car with her mom and dad to the event. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity so I am glad we can do this together.”

Students will hear from keynote speakers Dr. Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State and National Security Advisor to the President and General Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, four-star general and presidential candidate, attend special events and participate in several workshops and activities including a Black Tie and Gown Gala Inaugural Celebration.

Alexander, who said she was invited to join the National Young Scholars Program (NYSP) during grade school, was a student at Murray Elementary School before attending Kenwood Academy for 7th and 8th grade. She graduated with top honors and was co-valedictorian with two other students. At the high school level, Alexander is a straight “A” student, first chair flutist in the school’s band and is the only sophomore at Kenwood who is taking advanced placement chemistry.

Pierre Alexander, Arianna’s father, said he is proud of his daughter’s academic achievements and the opportunities they are providing her.

Pierre Alexander also said while the inaugural ceremony will be the first the family has attended, it’s not the Alexanders’ first time with the Obamas. He said in 2000 he gave the introduction speech for then-state Sen. Barack Obama during a Men’s Day program at his church and experienced several more encounters with the president before he moved to the White House.

“We live about a block and a half away from the Obamas so when they are in town and the secret service arrive we’re inside the bubble,” Pierre Alexander said. “During his first campaign I saw him outside playing with his youngest daughter Sasha and I told him he’d make it. That was probably our last encounter before he became president.”

Kenwood is also celebrating Alexander’s achievement. The school posted an announcement about her trip on its website and said, “Congratulations Arianna, we cannot wait to hear about your experience!”