Whelan’s ready to dance in D.C.
Katlyn Whelan of Corydon knew she would be attending the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., long before Barack Obama knew he would be the 44th president of the United States. She received her invitation in early spring, prior to Obama winning his party’s nomination to go on and face Republican John McCain in the General Election.
Fifteen-year-old Katlyn, a sophomore at Corydon Central High School, was invited as part of the Presidential Youth Inaugural Conference. To her knowledge, after doing some online research, she is the only Hoosier student selected to attend. The PYIC, held every four years, provides youth with the first-hand experience of taking part in the inauguration ceremonies of the president and vice president while, hopefully, giving them a better understanding of the electoral history of the country.
Besides selected students from the United States, youth from other countries also participate.
Katlyn’s mother, Donna, is excited for her daughter and has repeatedly told her this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
She keeps up with changes and updates in the itinerary through the conference’s Web site.
Craig Whelan, Katlyn’s father, has a more laid-back attitude toward his daughter’s selection, although he said this is her reward for her hard work to maintain high grades.
Katlyn will fly to Washington, D.C., on Saturday, where she will join the other participants.
She’ll be recognized by the scarf and polo shirt she’s required to wear; both items sport the inaugural conference emblem. And while in the nation’s capital through Jan. 21, Katlyn said, no jeans can be worn, only professional attire.
That is, except for the inaugural ball, scheduled for Tuesday night. Katlyn already has her evening gown, which should pack well because of its material. Katlyn, who visited D.C. when she was in junior high as part of the school’s trip, hopes to avoid checking any luggage. She said her experience of flying by herself to Texas for summer vacations has her prepared.
In addition to witnessing the oath of office and inaugural address by Obama and viewing the inaugural parade, the PYIC participants will be treated to social night on Saturday, hear several keynote speakers ‘ including Gen. Colin L. Powell, former Vice President Al Gore, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, authors Doris Goodwin and Lisa Ling and seven-time Tour de France winner and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong, participate in conference debates, receive a private tour of the Smithsonian Institute and visit the National Mall’s monuments and museums.
Katlyn’s involvement with the PYIC stems from her selection to attend the National Young Leaders Conference in Indianapolis when she was in the eighth grade.
She was nominated as a participant by her seventh-grade English teacher.
One of her few regrets about attending the PYIC is having to miss two CCHS girls’ basketball games, including the match-up with county-rival North Harrison. Katlyn, a forward for the Lady Panthers, will also miss two days of school.