Inauguration Day Caps Students' Efforts Teens Alyssa Roberts and Olivia Rudeen started a Students for Obama club in their Centennial, Colo., high school and even produced a video encouraging their fellow students to ask their parents to vote early. Their efforts paid off, and now they're going to D.C. for the inauguration.
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Inauguration Day Caps Students' Efforts

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Inauguration Day Caps Students' Efforts

Inauguration Day Caps Students' Efforts

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SCOTT SIMON, host

In the last few weeks, we've asked our listeners who'll be attending the inauguration to tell us how and why they're going. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Roberts wrote in to tell us that she'd be flying in from Colorado with her friend Olivia Rudeen. Together the two started a Students for Obama Club at their East High School in Denver, even produced a video encouraging their fellow students to ask their parents to vote early.

The video, which they posted on YouTube, features names that register with the under-18 crowd, including Jeff Tweedy from the band Wilco and Jonny 5 from The Flobots. It also featured some big names in politics, including Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and Senator Mark Udall, who's now made their trip possible by giving Ms. Roberts and Ms. Rudeen two tickets for the inauguration. Alyssa and Olivia join us now from the studios of Colorado Public Radio in Centennial, Colorado. Thanks so much for being with us.

Ms. ALYSSA ROBERTS (Student, East High School): Thank you.

Ms. OLIVIA RUDEEN (Student, East High School): Thank you for having us.

SIMON: So, Alyssa and Olivia, if I may call you that, why do you want to get involved in politics?

Ms. ROBERTS: Well, I think really it was the Obama campaign that was very inspiring. I remember watching Senator Obama - or Senate candidate, then - Obama speak at the 2004 DNC, and his words were very moving to me. And I went online and ordered an "I'm an Obama Fan. Vote Barack '08" T-shirt. And ever since then, Olivia and I have been working hard on this campaign.

SIMON: You must have been 13 years old then.

Ms. ROBERTS: I think I was 14; it was eighth grade.

SIMON: Olivia, how did you get involved in this?

Ms. RUDEEN: Well, a big part for me - although I know it's become a little bit cliche - was the hope and optimism of the campaign because I just remember after the 2004 election, realizing that President Bush would be the leader of our country for basically the rest of my childhood, and I sort of felt kind of powerless. But then this was really my chance to kind of regain my role in politics.

SIMON: Regain - you were 13 or 14.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: I'm trying to figure out what kind of role in politics you had before then.

Ms. ROBERTS: Well, I remember when we were 10, we chanted at a Halloween party: Gore, Gore, Gore!

Ms. RUDEEN: Yeah, we were always very, very interested in politics. I think probably, like, a lot that came from our parents.

SIMON: What are you going to do in Washington?

Ms. ROBERTS: Well, we're going to the inauguration. We're very lucky to be two people that get two of the 240,000 tickets available.

SIMON: May I ask you, are you going to be with your parents or some adult supervision?

Ms. ROBERTS: Well, I'm turning 18 today.

SIMON: Well, happy birthday.

Ms. ROBERTS: Thank you.

SIMON: And so you're old enough to go into the Marine Corps, so you're old enough to go to an inauguration?

Ms. ROBERTS: Mm-hm. And I can register to vote. It's a little late, but for next time.

SIMON: Well, you've had your effect, anyway. And just - so you have a place to stay?

Ms. ROBERTS: Mm-hm, with my grandma.

SIMON: What else are you going to do while there in Washington? Any idea?

Ms. ROBERTS: We're really hoping to get tickets to the youth inaugural ball. I think I've been calling the presidential inaugural committee five times a day, but we're still working on it.

SIMON: What do you expect from President Obama, let's say, over the next two years? What do you feel you have a right to expect, having lent him your support?

Ms. ROBERTS: Well, I expect to receive most of the change and promises that he has made during his campaign, things like ending the Iraq war, closing down Guantanamo Bay. Hopefully, we'll see a lot of progress.

SIMON: Olivia?

Ms. RUDEEN: I'm just really anticipating the honesty that he has exhibited throughout his campaign to continue into his presidency. And just including the general public in politics, including our desires, our wishes, our concerns.

Ms. ROBERTS: We, the people.

SIMON: Alyssa Roberts and Olivia Rudeen will be traveling from Denver for the inauguration on Tuesday. It's been very good talking to both of you. Thanks very much for your time, and have a wonderful time at the inauguration.

Ms. ROBERTS: Thank you.

Ms. RUDEEN: Thank you so much.

SIMON: And you can see their YouTube video at npr.org/soapbox. And you can come back to our blog each day before the inauguration, as Alyssa and Olivia will be sending us a daily video blog.

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