Northview student to attend presidential inauguration

John Lawson Jr. going as part of a young scholars program
Jan. 05, 2013 @ 11:24 PM

On Jan. 21, at least one Sevier County student will get a rare chance to witness one of the nation's oldest ceremonies.

Northview Middle School student John Lawson Jr. will attend a five-day Middle School Presidential Inaugural Conference, a program of events that includes the public ceremony of the second inauguration of President Barack Obama.

The 13-year-old was invited to the conference by the National Young Scholars Program, after he attended one of the program's leadership conferences at Wake Forest University in 2009.

The inaugural conference, which runs from Jan. 19-23, features presentations by keynote speakers Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara P. Bush, daughters of former president George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush, as well as activities at the National Mall.

On Inauguration Day, the John and the other Middle School Inaugural Scholars will attend a viewing party and luncheon, where the inaugural parade will be displayed on large viewing screens. The scholars will later attend an exclusive Gala Inaugural Celebration at National Harbor.

"I'm really excited," John said. "I'm excited for the inauguration, and everything else, because it's such an honor to go."

The scholars will also participate in conference activities over the course of the program "designed to expand their knowledge of democratic principles and the presidential election process," according to a conference press release.

"Something that is really wonderful about so many young people gathering in Washington, D.C. for this event is that it will provide them a chance to become more familiar with and attuned to the president who will govern our country over the next four years," said Marguerite Regan, dean of academic affairs for the Presidential Inaugural Conference, in a news release. "We certainly hope this will inspire the next generation of U.S. leaders."

John will fly to the District with his parents, who will stay at gthe home of relatives while he stays at a hotel with the other scholars.

It's not the first time he's been to the nation's capital. Last year, he visited Arlington National Cemetery for Wreaths Across America, a campaign to place thousands of wreaths on the graves during the holiday season.

"We also saw the (United States) Capitol building, the Washington Monument, the Changing of the Guard, and went to one of the Smithsonians and the Pentagon," John said. "It's a very historical and interesting city."

Besides the above credentials, John is president of the NMS Jr. Beta Club, an active Boy Scout, and is involved in community service through a food pantry in South Knoxville as well as in the Northview community.

His resume reads like the resume of an aspiring young politician, and John admitted he's interested in that field. If that's the case, this could be an invaluable experience for the young scholar.

"It's one of the biggest things that's been going on in our country for a long time, something that would be nice to go to and understand how everything works," he said.