Fort Mill Times

Freshman plans road trip to Obama's inauguration

Symone Griffin
Symone Griffin

Another local teen has scored a ticket to one of next year's most highly anticipated events - the inauguration of Barack Obama as president of the United States.

Symone Griffin, a freshman at Nation Ford High School, got the invitation to attend the swearing in ceremony, inaugural ball and other events through the National Youth Leadership Conference, the same organization that sent invitations to residents Anastasia Morrison and Ashley Chumney (reported in Nov. 19 edition of the Fort Mill Times). Griffin joined NYLC three years ago while in the sixth grade.

Griffin got the invitation in March and notified her school and teachers, but her friends don't know about her planned trip yet. In addition to the inauguration and the gala ball that night, Griffin will also attend several speeches and discussion groups. She will be in Washington, D.C., Jan. 17- 21.

"This event will be so crowded - millions and millions of people - so I'm a little concerned about the crowd, but I know they're going to be safe," Griffin's mother, Heather McNeil, said. "When we were young we wouldn't even have had the opportunity to go to an inauguration, but now she has this opportunity, we have to make it happen."

The trip will cost around $2,500, McNeil said. To raise money, Griffin sought help from her church, Sanctuary Charlotte. Since she had taken a Red Cross baby sitter certification course, Griffin watched the children of several of her fellow church members during a couple of parents' night out events. She raised money through raffles and other means as well.

Griffin has been to D.C. before. Three years ago, she went on another NYLC trip to the city and toured the monuments on the National Mall and attended several leadership conferences during the trip.

At 15, Griffin was too young to vote in the November election, but she's been paying attention to politics and current events since 2004. Her family were Obama supporters this year, and had two reasons to celebrate on Nov. 4. Griffin also turned 15 that day.

Griffin sings on her church's praise team. She plans to audition for the next season of "American Idol," and she's a member of the Nation Ford High Dance Team. She's also a math whiz, and has decided that she wants to either pursue a music career or become an accountant.

Though she is still young, the historical significance of Obama's election is not lost on her.

"We've come really far," Griffin said.

"From African Americans being slaves, to now an African American being elected president."