A local high school student will have a front-row seat to events of the 57th presidential inauguration on Monday.
Stephen W. Corbitt II, 16, will attend the inauguration of President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C. The junior at Paul G. Blazer High School will be in the nation’s capital throughout the inauguration weekend, attending a youth leadership conference.
“I’m really looking forward to it. I’m excited to see how it really works,” Corbitt said. “I’ve lived through several presidential elections, but this was the first one that I was really old enough to understand and comprehend what was really going on. The inauguration is almost a once-in-a- lifetime experience; not a lot of people get to go and see it happen,” he said.
Corbitt said although he would define himself as being a “center-right person” and would have voted for Mitt Romney if old enough to cast a ballot, he respects Obama.
“I don’t find him to be ineffective. He is the president and I do respect him as a leader. I’m excited to see what he will do in his next four years,” Corbitt said.
Like many Americans, Corbitt is frustrated by the ineffectiveness of Congress and the bitter partisan bickering about recent discussion on the economy and fiscal cliff.
“I think they need to try harder to come together and compromise,” he said. “They tend to be too rigid. They are never willing to give way to someone else’s ideas. If you are always going to stand by what you have always believed, progress is never going to get made.”
In addition to attending the second public-swearing in of the 44th president, Corbitt will have the opportunity to see the parade and attend a black-tie inaugural gala.
The conference also includes a number of panel discussions, presentations and group discussions, many featuring well-known and respected Americans. Former Secretary of State and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Gen. Wesley Clark will address students, along with journalists Bob Woodward and Nick Clooney.
This will be the second trip to Washington for Corbitt in the last year. A top student at Blazer, Corbitt spent 10 days in Washington during the summer as part of the National Youth Leadership Forum, a program of Envision EMI, an education-based company. Its programs “recognize and honor high-achieving students, encourage them to explore leadership and career topics and inspire them to reach their education goals.”
He was nominated for the program by a Blazer teacher. He then applied and was accepted into the summer program, attended by more than 250 students from across the country. This week’s Inauguration Conference is an alumni program of the forum.
“I’m really big into history and civics,” said Corbitt, who says he has “high aspirations for politics. I wanted to go on the trip and meet new people and learn about current events.
“Politics is definitely something I’m interested in, politics is definitely what I want to go into. But I figure a business degree would help along the lines of things like finances. If I can make a name for myself in business, then I can branch off into politics.”
Although he hasn’t chosen a college, Corbitt is eyeing Vanderbilt University, the University of Louisville and Cornell University.
During his last trip to the capital, Corbitt said he was very moved by a visit to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. “It spoke to me of the atrocities that have been committed by humanity in the past, and why we need to be so conscious of the leaders we choose for ourselves,” Corbitt said. “In a democracy, they make the most important decisions. It’s up to them to make sure things like the Holocaust don’t happen again.”
Corbitt is the son of Ashland City Manager Stephen Corbitt and his wife, Elaine.
CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2653.