Friday, January 27, 2012

Learning Real-World Civics: White House Contacts One of Our Students

One of the best ways to teach students to become engaged as a citizen of our country, is to have them try to communicate with those in political office. One of our students did just that. A few months back, a student at our school wrote a letter to the Obama Administration, and in that letter she invited the President to visit our school. This week, she and my school secretary were surprised when we received a phone call from the White House. But allow me to let that student tell what happened:


When President Obama visited our state, the Catawba County Democratic Party Chair said that she would deliver some letters from those of us that wanted to write them. I jumped at the opportunity to have contact with the President of the United States of America. I got my letter in on time. Basically, I told President Obama that he has my support and my family’s support and that the Young Democrats of Catawba County are here for him. After signing my name to the letter, I had another thought. So, I wrote on the back: “P.S. You should visit my school.”

A few weeks later, I received a manila envelope in the mail with the return address of The White House. Inside this mysterious envelope was a letter from Michael McSwain, the Associate Director for Scheduling Correspondence from the Office of Scheduling and Advance, explaining that President Obama has a very busy schedule and cannot come to my school at this time. It said that he values each and every invitation he receives to see the country first hand, but it was with sincere regret that “the President is unable to visit your school at this time.” Also in the manila envelope was a picture of the President, the First Lady, and their two children. It just so happens to be autographed by none other than Barrack and Michelle Obama. Even if it is the electronic autograph, it is the thought that counts.

I hadn’t given it much thought recently until English class on January 25, 2012. Mrs. - - - -,  our school secretary, came into my class out of breath saying something about there being a phone call for me. It was who was on the line that had everyone in shock. It was the White House. More specifically, the President’s scheduling coordinator. He told me that President Obama read my letter and appreciated it. He also told me that it was with sincere regret that he could not visit in the near future. While I was a little disappointed that he would not be coming, I was overcome with joy that the President of the United States of America READ my letter. Not only did he read it, he APPRECIATED it. It is things like these that make the world seem less large. It is things like these that make people feel less small.


All this talk about teaching our students to be 21st century citizens means getting them to engage and understand our government. While our student did not receive a phone call from the President himself,  it is things like these that make our students believe they are heard and valued by those who lead our country. 

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