Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Obama's Talk Resonates with Local Students; Most Agreed It Was Motivating, despite the Controversy around It

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Obama's Talk Resonates with Local Students; Most Agreed It Was Motivating, despite the Controversy around It

Article excerpt

Byline: TOPHER SANDERS

Breanna Choat said it was a little "cheesy" to call President Barack Obama's Tuesday speech to the nation's schoolchildren inspiring, but that's exactly what she and many of her classmates thought.

"I really do," the 15-year-old said, "because he's, like, the head honcho of this country, and him taking the time to go to a school and speak to us is really important."

Breanna and about 25 of her ninth-grade classmates watched the president's speech during teacher Leah Rose's language arts class at River City Science Academy.

The speech, which lasted nearly 20 minutes, was projected on Rose's dry erase board, under the words "What Will Define This Generation?" written on the wall above the board.

Obama challenged students to stay in school and do well in school for themselves and their country.

"We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems," Obama said. "If you don't do that - if you quit on school - you're not just quitting on yourself, you're quitting on your country."

Obama also stressed that the students can't let failure keep them from becoming successful.

The president used Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, whose first book was rejected 12 times, and Michael Jordan, who was cut from his high school basketball team, as examples of people who didn't let failure keep them from success.

It was clear that Obama's message resonated with Rose's students during a 20-minute conversation after the speech about the value of education and why it is important to stay in school.

'COMPLETELY EDUCATIONAL'

Nicole Okuthe, 14, who was born in Kenya, said the speech was particularly motivating for her as an immigrant.

The speech "makes me think I can do anything I want to do over here regardless of where I come from," she said.

Controversy about the speech was sparked when Republican leaders and some parents said Obama would use the venue to impress his political views on children. …

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