IONE - Forget Washington, D.C. The real inauguration action is in Ione. For longer than most teachers can remember, the Ione school has held its own version of the presidential inauguration. Every four years the first- through fourth-graders drum up all the elementary pomp and circumstance they can muster and take to the gym floor.
"It's living in America, it's social studies," said fourth-grade teacher Barbara Collin. "It's knowing what is going on around you."
Every student has a part to play, from the U.S. chief justice to the former secretary of state. The big parts are chosen by an election from students.
President George W. Bush was played Thursday by fourth-grader Evan Rietmann. Faith Owens, also a fourth-grader, portrayed First Lady Laura Bush.
Rietmann, who wore a suit and tie for the event and gave a short speech after being sworn in, said if he had to meet the president he would probably ask for some advice.
"I'd have him give me a few pointers on speechmaking and on ways to be a better American," he said. When asked what he would do if he could pal around with the president for a day, Rietmann said he would like to play some baseball.
"I like baseball."
Owens said she was surprised to be voted on as the First Lady, but she was glad she got the part.
"I really didn't have to do much," Owens said. At the end of the inauguration, students and families filed into the cafeteria for the ceremonial first dance where the mini-dignitaries learned to waltz. While she never missed a step, Owens said the dancing could have been left out.
"It was actually kind of embarrassing," she said.
Ione School Principal and Superintendent Bryn Browning said that although this was her first inauguration she was deeply moved by the adorability factor.
"I had tears in my eyes, they were so cute," she said.
School Board member Greg Rietmann, father to the new "President Rietmann," joked about his son's new responsibility.
"As long as he gets things done, I'll be happy," said the proud father as he videotaped the inauguration.