Local students react to Obama speech

September 9, 2009 6:07:04 AM PDT
President Barack Obama welcomed students back to school Tuesday with some advice.Watch Pres. Obama's speech | Read the Text

Despite concerns by some parents about the message broadcast nationwide, the speech was basically a pep talk about the opportunities of education.

The great presidential school speech dust-up turned out to be much less controversial than many had feared.

"We need every single one of you to develop your talents and your skills and your intellect so you can help us old folks solve our most difficult problems," said Obama.

Many schools broadcast the speech. Some taped it to show Wednesday. Some required parental permission, and some wouldn't show it at all. One of those was McHenry West High School. Some students there were so upset they left school and held a protest outside against what they saw as censorship.

"I was angered by it and surprised that a message from our president to the students wasn't being shown to us, and we weren't even given the option," said Nicholaus Langlois, student.

So the students listened wherever they could find a radio without benefit of school approval. The superintendent blamed the whole thing on lack of information and lead time. The students are unsure if they'll be punished for cutting class.

In Chicago, one homeless student was shocked when she was singled out by the president during the speech.

"Then there's Shantell Steve, from my home town, Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center, start a program to keep young people out of gangs, and she's on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college," said Obama.

Shantell watched the speech at Percy Julian High School.

"Everybody was shocked. No one could believe it. I was shocked, too. Just to hear my name out of Barack Obama's mouth is amazing," said Shantell.

Shantell says she has no idea how the president found out about her.


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