Students sit at a desk | Still from SoCal Connected's "Under Pressure"

Washington Bound

Madison Middle School is a public school in North Hollywood, serving a mostly low-income, immigrant community: Latinos, Asians, Armenians. But Terre Fallon, a language arts teacher, was determined that her school’s students get a chance to go to Washington for the Inauguration.

But at one thousand one hundred dollars per pupil, this wasn’t going to be affordable for most of the families; and the attempts to raise outside funds were unsuccessful. So the seventh-grade students got to work.

Cindy Rivera and Jennifer Tran became tag-team salesmen of chocolate bars. 12-year old Edwin Lua, stationed himself outside the Hispanic supermarket every weekend, becoming the school’s top fundraiser by making his pitch in both Spanish and English.

Between the monies these kids raised selling chocolate bars and doing car washes … plus some last-minute donations from sympathetic teachers, 35 Madison Middle School students were set to go on the trip of a lifetime.

But there was one more expense they hadn’t anticipated: These were all children of Los Angeles … if they had ever taken a trip outside southern California, it was to visit relatives in Mexico or Central America. So too survive a frigid Washington in January, coats, gloves and scarves would have to be bought or donated.

But their months of effort paid off. Setting off from their Maryland motel at 5:30 the morning of the Inauguration, they were able to find a place on the National Mall, where they could see the Capitol Building, and watch Barack Obama take the oath of office on huge Jumbotron. Even at ages 12 and 13, they all knew this was a story they would be telling their children and grandchildren.

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Under Pressure

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