Obama's speech heard by most students

September 8, 2009 7:04:39 PM PDT
The president is likely putting the finishing touches on a speech to Congress he will deliver Wednesday at 5 p.m. Pacific Time. On Tuesday morning, he addressed school children, encouraging them to work hard and get a good education, but even that message came with some controversy.

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A Homestead High School government class in Cupertino had a guest speaker who shared the same televised message with millions of students.

"If you quit on school, you are not just quitting on yourself, you are quitting on your country," said President Barack Obama.

The students gave President Obama high marks for encouraging kids to do their best and not give up.

"He just got to the point and it was really good. It was really inspiring," said high school junior Jessica Pan.

"The fact that he said 'You may not succeed in everything you do,'" seemed to impress high school senior Mehrdad Niknami.

"I like how they said things about being responsible to yourself and not just everybody around you," said senior Mingja Edholm.

Some critics initially called the speech a way for the president to indoctrinate schoolchildren with a socialist agenda, but the speech proved to be more pep talk than political rally cry.

"But you've got to do your part too," said President Obama.

"I didn't find it controversial at all. I felt it was a message we want students to have, it's about trying your best and overcoming adversity," said Homestead High principal Graham Clark.

Most of the teachers at Homestead High School did have the class watch the speech live, but students had to option of leaving the class and spending that time in the quad area.

Homestead has about 2,200 students. The school administration says approximately 10 choose not to watch the speech. Around the country, there were many more who opted out.

"I just don't want her viewing this speech. I feel that we're just being misled and misguided," said Texas mother Leslie Stephen.

President George H.W. Bush also talked directly to school children in 1991. Government teacher Christy Heaton is going to have her students analyze President Obama's message.

"Certainly I want them to be critical consumers of the speech was, so things they disagreed with, I want them to talk about that," said Heaton.

"I get it, I know what it's like," said President Obama.

The president seemed to connect with his real talk and real stories.

"I thought he was actually sincerely trying to get students to do better and make better lives for themselves and to improve our country," said junior Rohit Subramaniam.

In the Homestead classroom at least, there was applause.

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