Derby teen sees inaugural wheels in action
  Patricia Villers, Register Staff       January 24, 2001

DERBY ó Thomas Orazietti got a glimpse of democracy in action Saturday when he witnessed President George W. Bush take the oath of office in Washington, D.C.

Orazietti, a senior at Derby High School, was invited to travel to the nationís capital by the Congressional Youth Leadership Council. He was the only high school student from the Valley invited.

The opportunity to go to the Presidential Youth Inaugural Conference was extended to alumni of the councilís National Young Leaders Conference held in February, which Orazietti attended.

Students had to pay their own way to the inaugural festivities.

"We did a lot of partying," an exhausted Orazietti said Monday.  "They left us on our own a lot."

The trip was meant to be a festive one for students who had attended the prior conference, which involved a lot of work. 

Orazietti, 17, said much of his school day Monday was spent telling teachers and classmates about his trip.  "It was the greatest experience of my life," he said.

Last week 400 students from throughout the United States heard speakers and simulated different roles that lawmakers must perform.  The teen-agers were there from Tuesday through Sunday.

"The (person playing the) President was put into different situations," Orazietti recalled.  "We were broken up into groups and we had to decide how we would handle certain things and resolve problems."

The participants were treated to a fun-filled five days, he said, ranging from attending the pre-inaugural fireworks display and concert to cruising the Potomac River to having a great view at the inauguration.

"For some reason the Connecticut group got the best seats of all the kids at the conference," he said.

Although he is interested in the workings of government, Orazietti does not plan to pursue a career in politics.  Instead he plans to attend Western New England College in Springfield, Mass., to study computer engineering.

The youth council, founded in 1985, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.