WASHINGTON — A day after the leadership of the United States had dined in the Capitol's stately Statuary Hall, the Manning High School band took its turn Wednesday to savor the space.

The students craned their necks to take in the hall and adjacent Rotunda with its canopy fresco, snapping picture after picture with their cameras on the guided tour that ended with some reflection by U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn.

"I know all of you will cherish being here," said Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat whose 6th congressional district includes Manning. "You may not realize it today, but when you get to my age, maybe a little younger, you will."

The Golden Pride Marching Band and its 85 members were invited to play in the Inaugural Parade on Tuesday. The parade was the fourth time they had played for Barack Obama since he first stumped in their small, rural community in fall 2007.

The band spent almost seven weeks practicing for the Big Day and reached out to the community to raise $40,000 for the trip.

When the big day arrived, Candace Mack, a 17-year-old senior and the band's clarinet captain, didn't know if she had it in her to finish the route. A full day in the bitter cold and little sleep nearly did her in.

Mack awoke at 3 a.m. on Inauguration Day to make it in time from the band's Richmond hotel to the parade route in the District of Columbia. She layered two pair of thermal underwear over leggings and stretched three pair of socks on her feet.

"I almost felt like I couldn't do it, to be honest with you. But after I saw (President) Obama and he was smiling at us, I was on the go," the animated teen said Wednesday, pumping her arms and lifting her feet in a march as she recalled the moment.

Many of the band members said they felt that connection with the new president when they passed by the first family on the route. They said he gave them a big wave and smiled as they marched on.

"I left my signature in Washington, I dropped my stick on the ground," said drummer Joey DuRant, a 13-year-old eighth-grader.

The day after the parade ended, the students listened intently as Clyburn described the formal lunch that had taken place in Statutory Hall. Clyburn was part of a select group that joined the new president, other congressional leaders and Supreme Court justices.

They didn't have long to hang around, though. Band director Ray Francis arranged for the band to play a private concert Wednesday afternoon at the Jefferson Memorial.

"This kids will have memories to last a lifetime," Francis said.

Francis has taught at the high school for 29 years and is loved by his students, including many

Obama and he was smiling at us, I was on the go," the animated teen said Wednesday, pumping her arms and lifting her feet in a march as she recalled the moment.

Many of the band members said they felt that connection with the new president when they passed by the first family on the route. They said he gave them a big wave and smiled as they marched on.

"I left my signature in Washington, I dropped my stick on the ground," said drummer Joey DuRant, a 13-year-old eighth-grader.

The day after the parade ended, the students listened intently as Clyburn described the formal lunch that had taken place in Statutory Hall. Clyburn was part of a select group that joined the new president, other congressional leaders and Supreme Court justices.

They didn't have long to hang around, though. Band director Ray Francis arranged for the band to play a private concert Wednesday afternoon at the Jefferson Memorial.

"This kids will have memories to last a lifetime," Francis said.

Francis has taught at the high school for 29 years and is loved by his students, including many

Manning graduates who reached out to him when they heard he was invited to take the band to the inauguration.

Tavonia Pearson, who volunteers at the band's functions and came along on the trip as an adult chaperone, said she was overwhelmed by the community's send-off when they left Manning on Sunday. Her daughter Tearea Scott, 14, plays in the band.

"Everyone showed up," Pearson said. "It was one of those moments, you get all teary-eyed."