I feel fortunate to have been able to witness the "swearing in" of our new president, in a 3rd grade classroom.
To begin with, working in this grade, I have found that it could be the most interesting school year in elementary school. It a year when some children "get it" and some do not. Some just are not yet ready to wrap their brains around any concept bigger then their own family and community.
Before we turned on the TV, it was important to lead into this by discussing what it was going to be and asking for questions. The senior teacher led the flow with a little history, and telling the class that this was an historical occasion. Detailing why, to this age group, with sensitivity was a little harder.
When, on the television it was said "please stand", I found it interesting that all except one child stood, and she vocalized that she did not have to stand, it was her right as an American not too, that is what mom has told me. So even though she really had no concept of a good reason not to stand, she understood that it was not mandatory.
More interesting, and very reassuring to me, is that when the teacher was trying to explain about the history of segregation, these children could not conceive of such a concept. Some may say they need to have it drilled into them, so history does not repeat itself, but in this classroom, in this school, in this city, it was so far out, that they knew it couldn't be so. One child spoke out, after looking around the classroom, and said "so we would need like twenty drinking fountains?". The lines are so blurred here that they really aren't any. These kids see each other as kids, friends or enemies, it has nothing to do with the color of their skin. If they don't like Suzie, or Jose, or Robert, well, it is because they are third graders, and they "called me dumb" or "she didn't share her candy". There is no race line that they have learned.
We did have many more interesting topics, to these guys, then race. Several voiced their opinion of he isn't my president because "my family didn't vote for him", and "my dad says someone is going to shoot him.". A couple asked if he was the president of the world. One girl asked if Lincoln had given that bible, and so does that mean Lincoln is still alive? One asked if his little girls were in third grade, another asked if he had to wear a suit every day now, as president.
We explained that he is the President of the United States, of all citizens of the states, even if you didn't vote for him. It was a very good learning experience for me. Some third graders can tell you the history of presidency, and some do not even know what United States, as a concept are.
All in all, with no mention of race, either through "parental eyes" or these children, I think it was a good thing, whether they understand the significance of what they witnessed or not.