It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime for 20 Soulsville Charter School students: Being the only school invited to attend at Thursday's Vice Presidential Debate at Centre College in Kentucky.
But as popularity for the debate grew, first priority for seats went to politicians and press.
"I can't say that I was disappointed because it's something that most people in Memphis don't even get close to and we were so close to it," says Soulsville Senior Adrian Williams, who says they did get to see Vice President Joe Biden walking into the debate arena.
The students say they were able to see the debate room before the big show, "we just weren't able to see them debate in the debate house. But seeing it on TV was just as good, I got their points just as well," says Soulsville Senior Keosha Stewart.
They were still able to ask the question they were supposed to ask at the VP debate, instead asking Kentucky representatives at a town hall meeting that aired nationwide. Their question: How would the president be able to help more middle-class citizens pay for their child's college education.
"The middle class is sometimes expected to pay for everything themselves because they're not exactly poor and if they were richer they'd pay for it themselves, so sometimes the middle class gets left in debt," says Soulsville Senior Tumi Aikn-Deko.
So they didn't go inside the debate, but these bright minds say being in the throes of a politically charged environment was thrilling enough.
"Memphis is really democratic, very liberal so sometimes I'm surrounded in liberal things," says Stewart, "But to go there I got to see two different viewpoints and it was actually enriching."
While these students may not be able to vote yet, they say they want to soak up as much of the political affairs as they can, because one day they will be active voters.
"I like knowing what's going on and even though I'm not old enough to vote right now because I'm 17," says Aikn-Deko, "I still like to be engaged and being able to put my voice in for who I want to lead my country."