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Trip to Washington's Festivities Softens the 'Sting'For Iowa Students Whose School Is To Be Closed

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When Randall Clegg, superintendent of schools in Dumont, Iowa, was forced to announce the closing of the town's only high school last year, he tried desperately to come up with some sort of special treat he could offer the students "to take the sting away."

After much soul searching, he asked the school board if he could take the entire student body on a field trip: to the inauguration of the 41st President of the United States.

"I thought they would fall off their chairs when I asked them," Mr. Clegg recalled. "But right off, they said, 'Go for it."'

And so, on Jan. 20, the 61 students of the soon-to-be-defunct Dumont High School will be seat4ed close to Washington's power elite.

The much-sought-after tickets to the event were given by three members of Iowa's Congressional delegation, Senators Tom Harkin and Charles E. Grassley and Representative David R. Nagle. Each member sacrificed about a third of his passes for the students, Mr. Clegg said.

The students have spent much of the past year washing cars, making pizzas, and selling various trinkets to raise money for the trip, which Mr. Clegg said will cost them $291 each.

The price includes air fare, four days in a Washington-area motel, and transportation while in the city.

"I wanted to give them some8thing positive to work toward through the year," Mr. Clegg said. "It's very traumatic when you close a school. It's really hard for the kids."

The superintendent said the board spent a year studying the options for the school, which was suffering from rising costs and a severe enrollment decline.

Finally, the board decided that the school's days were numbered. Next year, its students will attend nearby Hampton Community School, which enrolls about 1,000.

At least, says Mr. Clegg, Dumont High's last students--many of whom have never been on an airplane before--will have something to remember their school by.--lj

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