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Inauguration a teaching tool

As Americans flocked to Washington, D.C., or turned on their televisions to watch Barack Obama's inauguration on Tuesday, Jan. 20, local schools also made sure students were able to witness history in the making.

At Draper Middle School in Rotterdam, every room that had a television was tuned in to inauguration coverage.

Depending on the grade level, teachers can adapt and adjust [their lessons] based on what the students already know and what they need to incorporate, said Deborah Male, Draper Middle School principal.

"A lot of kids don't understand why this is so historical because if you subtract eight from their age, the eighth-graders are only 14 and the sixth-graders are only 12. Bush had been in office for eight years," said Male.

Whether students remember life before President George W. Bush or not, they seemed well aware of the significance of Obama's inauguration.

Draper Middle School social studies teachers Fred Saccocio, Tom Diacetis and Dale Wade-Keszey gathered their seventh-graders in the school's library to watch inauguration coverage and discuss their feelings on Obama and the country's future. They had been preparing their students for the event all year, with history lessons and discussions about Sen. John McCain's and Obama's presidential candidacies.

"First we started the year talking about the road to the Civil War, and then Reconstruction and so forth," said Saccocio. "It's astounding for them, so that's the most compelling feature here, but as far as teaching about the election, it was something that was so much in the media these kids were immersed in it whether they liked it."

During the election, the three teachers held discussions about the candidates and encouraged their students to watch the debates.

"A lot of it was just answering questions that they had -- trying to give them answers through the whole process," said Diacetis, who added that the teachers tried to stay non-partisan through the process.

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