CHEROKEE, Ala. (WAAY)- Due to forced budget cuts, the White House Visitor Center is canceling all tours starting Saturday, March 9. The decision will directly affect a group of 10th grade students from Cherokee High School in Colbert County who were planning to spend their Spring Break in Washington D.C.
For 10th grader and history buff Jonathan Wells, going to Washington D.C. is a trip of a lifetime. He and 16 of his classmates spent months raising money to travel there in two weeks. However, the group received word through email this week that their tour of the White House had been cancelled due to sequestration.
"I was really upset because living in a small town, you don't really get that many opportunities to do things like this," said Wells. "That was really a one in a million chance, and having it being taken away in an email really hurt."
Wells said that he never imagined the sequester would affect him personally.
For scheduled tours, 37 secret service officers are typically on staff. Each are paid $50 per hour for 8 hour shifts. This adds up to $74,000 a week. Officials said that comes to almost $2-million that will be saved by canceling the tours through the end of this fiscal year.
American History teacher Sue Floyd-Deaton said that the tour of the White House was one of the things her class was looking forward to the most.
"The students were disappointed, and I didn't realize how much it would mean to them. All of our talking during class about it had built up an anticipation, so it's just a disappointment," she said.
The group still plans to have a great trip but now realize that they're a part of history in the making.