Select groups of students were invited by the White House and high school administration to attend President Obama’s remarks Jan. 4.
The White House first invited the senior class to attend the event. When the White House released 100 additional student tickets, four subject classes were invited to the speech based on teachers’ schedules. Those whose attendance would require the least class coverage were invited. Principal Michael Griffith also invited each Student Council class president to the event.
Some students felt that the method of ticket distribution was unfair. “I felt like Economics students should have been able to go,” junior Jake Polster said. The speech was labeled “Remarks on the Economy by President Obama.” Polster, who watched the speech on TV, felt that the method of selection was unfair because some seniors chose not to attend the speech.
Griffith noted that tickets were less readily available than during Obama’s first visit to Shaker in July 2009. He attributed the lack of tickets to the change in format. Obama’s 2009 visit was a town hall meeting on healthcare reform, while his 2012 visit resembled a campaign event.
Several seniors, as well as Griffith, attributed the Class of 2012’s invitation to their role as young voters in the upcoming presidential election. “Shaker will always vote for Obama . . [He is] trying to get us to follow,” senior Arielle Cronig said.
The president’s remarks may have little influence on how Shaker students vote in November. Many students expected Obama to discuss the current economic situation or future economic plans. Obama’s 21-minute address was primarily a recess appointment of Richard Cordray as head of a consumer watchdog agency. “[The speech] didn’t change my opinion of him, but did show action,” senior Thomas Greenhalgh-Miller said.
A third group of students sought tickets on their own. “There were a lot of rumors going around that there were only 50 student tickets [left],” said junior Clara Kao, who waited outside the administration building for three and a half hours for her ticket.
Whether students attended or not, Obama’s speech brought energy to the high school. Sophomore Morgan Kiener attended the speech with her AP U.S. History class. She said, “Having President Obama in our high school is exciting on its own,” she said.
A version of this article appeared in print on 8 February 2012, on page 2 of The Shakerite.