Many classrooms were filled with a little presidential pomp and circumstance Tuesday.
President Obama spoke to students by way of a video feed fed from Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. He challenged students to develop education goals and stick to them.
Obama is not the first president to deliver a school-opening talk. But the 20-minute speech was plagued with
controversy from the moment it was announced. Some school districts and individual principals were hesitant to provide students access to the speech.
The principal at Rosewood Elementary in Columbia showed the address to some students, and recorded it to show to the rest on Wednesday. Ted Wachter(WOCK-ter) has led the school for 25 years. “I just hope it will make a positive change,” said Wachter, “in the lives of some children who see him as a positive force in their lives.”
Principal Wachter liked Obama’s comments. He says he knows that students can accomplishment a lot with guidance, but he emphasizes that luck doesn’t hurt either. He says not everyone can grow up to be President but hard work combined with a little luck can accomplish a lot.
Former state Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum was present for the address at Rosewood Elementary School in Columbia, and watched the President along with a classroom of 5th graders. Tenenbaum says, based on her time as Superintendent between 1999 and 2007, she knows there was nothing unusual about President Obama’s desire to deliver a back-to-school message.
“We often had back-to-school kickoffs, as with Dick Riley, when he was Secretary of Education,” said Tenebaum. “And President Bush would send messages to the schools, as well as First Lady Laura Bush, and we would always foward them to the schools. I think this controversy was a misunderstanding over what the lesson guides were.”
Natalie Jones, a 5th Grader in Mrs. Shealey’s class, said the President’s message made her feel good. “What I got from it is to always try your best in class. Even if your family doesn’t have much money, you can still do your best. So keep on trying to do your best.”
The president said that when he was in high school, he was a goof off, and said his main goal was to get on the varsity
He told students that it was never to late to remake themselves or start on something they wanted to do. He mentioned that even Michael Jordon was kicked off of his high school basketball team.
Obama told students that there’s no excuse for not trying. He told them they wouldn’t click with every teacher. But he said the most important element in education is dedicated teachers.