Students meet the President


Steve Lyle


The excitement of seeing the President just a block away from West High School left a big impact upon the students who got a chance to hear his 20-minute campaign speech on Oct. 24.

Seventy-six Business Academy students stepped gingerly through the muddy grass of Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds to join about 3,000 people gathered to hear Pres. Barack Obama speak.

Business Academy teacher Steve Verdon said it was “amazing” to watch the students’ response.

“There was so much excitement and giddy chatter from the students all morning,” he said. “Watching kids hypertalking to each other and at the speech was awesome.”

Kiearrah Williams said the event is one she will never forget.

“It was one of the best days I’ve had in 2012,” she said. “I stood in a huge puddle of mud just to have a good view–that’s how much of a dedicated fan I am. When he walked out, I couldn’t believe I was there.”

She found Obama’s speech about education and getting out to vote was interesting.

“He is a very strong public speaker. I’m pretty sure with his speaking ability he could persuade a Republican to turn Democrat.”

Jenni C. said seeing the President was an “awesome” experience.

“When we first got there, there were so many people and we were trying to squeeze through people to get closer,” she said. “It was cool how they had the sniper guys on the roof and the helicopter. Obama was a very good speaker, and it felt unreal when I saw him walking to the stage. I wanted to shake his hand so bad! But there were too many people in the way.”

For Shaelyn Amos, the most memorable thing was “all the blue signs and the sound the hundreds of people made when they saw Obama, and when the President spoke everyone went wild.”

Gale Shultz got to shake the President’s hand. “It was the best handshake of my life,” he said. “He looked directly at me and smiled. It was a real man handshake.”

The President’s humor stood out in Bria Clay’s mind.

“I thought it was funny how he was talking about Romnesia and it was all good because Obamacare covers it.”

Cody Pribble liked the President’s response to the crowd.

“I really liked when people were booing Romney, and Obama made the ‘No, don’t boo; vote!’ comment. I also liked his comment about Romney’s five-point economy plan, saying it was a one-point plan to failure. He was really funny and had an entertaining speech.”

Thomas Christopher remembers Obama’s response to a boy in the crowd.

“A Tiger Scout asked the President if he wanted to buy some popcorn. He asked his Secret Service Agent for a $20 bill and wrote his name on the order form. The kid and his dad are going to photocopy the order form, and keep and frame the original.”

Verdon said people at the rally told him it was great that he organized the students’ trip so they could see the American government in action firsthand.  It was rewarding for Verdon, too.

“My long days on Monday and Tuesday made a once in a lifetime opportunity for 76 kids. (This event) relit the torch of education for me. If you provide real world opportunities for students, they don’t read it but live it.”