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An Inaugural Ball for the Elementary Set

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More than 2,000 participants from all over the country showed up at the Historical Society in downtown D.C. today for the "Children's Inaugural Ball."

Instead of champagne flutes and string quartets, this "ball" had cotton candy, hot dogs, story time, and a puppet theater. Kids got their faces painted and their pictures taken with cutouts of President-elect Obama and Vice-President-elect Biden.

The event was sponsored by the Every Child Matters Education Fund, a nonprofit organization that works to make children's issues a national priority.

Michael Petit, the fund's president, said he was pleased with the just-introduced $825 billion stimulus package, crafted by the incoming administration and House Democrats.

"It's very kid-friendly legislation," he said. He thinks increasing spending on programs like children's nutrition, Head Start, and prekindergarten will help jump-start the sluggish economy and invest in the future.

Obama understands the investment behind pumping federal money into children's programs, he said. "I don't think he's going to have to be talked into it."

The kids are also looking forward to Obama's presidency.

"I think he's going to end the war peacefully and lower taxes," said Brooke Stewart, 8, who came from Clemmons, N.C., which is near Winston-Salem.

Imani Robinson, a 10-year-old who goes to SAIL Public Charter School in DC, said her class has been talking a lot about the connection between Martin Luther King Jr. and Obama.

"Lots of people said that some black people couldn't be president and he proved them wrong,"
she said.

We also ran into Debbie Phelps, mother of gold-medal-winner Michael Phelps, and a principal at a middle school in Baltimore County, Md. She said she thinks President Obama is going to reach out to all races and religious backgrounds. "It's been a historic election," she said. "It just sends shivers up my spine."

For more from Petit, Phelps, and the kids, check out the video of the event that we'll be posting here at edweek.org later this evening.

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One of the items given out to the children at the celebration was a book called A GOOD HEART. It encourages young people to become advocates for a healthy lifestyle. If you got a book, be sure you visit the Intenet links associated with the book. If you didn't, you can order one on Amazon.

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