Five mid-Peninsula students missed their flight home from Washington, D.C., on Tuesday and considered themselves extremely lucky.
After all, if they left on time they would have missed the chance to meet President Barack Obama.
"I'm still in shock. Every five minutes, I'm screaming 'I met Obama,' and everyone in the house is laughing," said Nitya Kasturi, a 15-year-old Gunn High School sophomore, in a phone interview Tuesday night.
Nitya and four other members of the Midpeninsula Community Media Center -- a Gunn classmate, two Palo Alto High students and a Woodside Priory student -- were in Washington, D.C., at the request of the Democratic Municipal Officials, according to Wes Rapaport, who has been with the media center for seven years.
Democratic Municipal Officials, a constituency organization of the Democratic National Committee, had seen the group's video work on civic government and wanted the teenagers to make a promotional shoot about it, Rapaport said. So it reached out through former Palo Alto Mayor Yiaway Yeh.
Becky Sanders, programming director of the media center, said getting the youth video group to Washington for Monday's inauguration felt "as if all the tumblers in the universe fell into place and the vault opened."
Southwest Airlines provided free tickets to the group, and U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo secured yellow section tickets at the inauguration. As for lodging, Yeh took care of that by contacting a
On Tuesday, Yeh told the teenagers they could either take a quick tour of the White House before heading home or stay longer to meet up with a special guest that a contact of his had set up, but risk missing the flight home, said Dakota Baker, a 16-year-old Gunn sophomore.
They chose the risky option and took a public tour of the White House before meeting up with a staffer in the East Room. There, they found out that the guest was first lady Michelle Obama.
As the door opened into the Blue Room, Dakota was shocked to see not just the first lady, but the president as well -- and even the family dog Bo.
"It was fabulous -- my body was tingling. ... I don't even remember what the room looked like. I was looking at him and Michelle the whole time. It was amazing," Dakota recounted.
"He's actually really tall, and I'm pretty short." Nitya said, recalling her thoughts while meeting the leader of the free world and his wife. "The president was more outgoing than Michelle was -- thought that was interesting." Nitya said. "The first lady's bangs were really nice," she added.
Bo took an interest in Dakota's fur-lined coat. "I didn't feel him playing with the coat," she said. The president commented that Bo thought her coat was an animal and gently told him to sit.
The group later took a tour of the West Wing, stopping by the White House kitchen, where they were given sugar cookies made in the shape of the presidential building and ate frozen yogurt from cups with the presidential seal, Dakota said.
"Everyone that's eaten them says they're the most delicious cookies ever. I haven't eaten mine yet; I'm looking at it right now, admiring it," Dakota said.
The surprise visit topped off a weekend in which the Youth Media Corps interviewed 10 government officials from around the country, Dakota said. The interviews were shot at a D.C. studio with the help of the National Association of Broadcasters, Rapaport said.
Sanders said it was a privilege to watch the students do professional-level work with little guidance from her and Rapaport. "I'm super proud of these kids."
The group will return home tonight; Southwest rescheduled their flights free of charge.
Email Victor Gonzales at email@example.com.
On the Web
See the Youth Video Corps group meet President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and their dog Bo in this White House video at http://1.usa.gov/Ws1xeQ. The group appears from 00:23 to 1:46.
See the group's blog at http://midpen-media-center.blogspot.com and its Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/MidpenMediaCenter.