The Obamas arrived at about 2pm on Tuesday to read a story to 2nd graders in our school library. The library's small, and it was packed with press, secret service officers, a few teachers and administrators, and of course the 2nd graders with their teachers. The drama teacher and I met with the rest of the kids and teachers (over 250 people--student, staff, some parents) in the school's "common" area to watch the visit and story on a live video feed that Obama's staff set up. Everyone arrived in the commons early, at 1:30, because the secret service wanted the rest of the building cleared, and to fill the time we sang a bunch of songs (when you got that many kids in the same room you gotta keep'em occupied!). We sang Lean on Me, If You Wanna Sing Out, True Colors, Stand By Me, You've Got a Friend, We Shall Overcome, We Come From the Mountains, and a bunch of other school songs--we even repeated a few when our repertoire ran out!! Our secret hope was that the Obamas would hear us before or after their time in the library and decide to come visit. Barack and Michelle started reading at about 2:15 (we all watched and listened through the live feed). They shared reading "The Moon Over Star" by Dianna Hutts Aston. They both joked about getting a break from the White House, engaged the kids in conversations about what they want to be, shook all their hands, and generally seemed relaxed. Everyone in the commons watched and listened with total focus.
When they finished reading, the drama teacher and I started some more songs, hoping they'd hear us and come downstairs before they left the building. A secret service officer asked the drama teacher and I to ask the audience to remain seated since the visitors were leaving through the back door (we were afraid they were gone already...). We made the announcement, and kept singing so we could at least say we sang for the Obamas as they left. Suddenly, Barack Obama walked in, followed by Michelle Obama and Arne Duncan!!!! We were in the middle of a song when they arrived, everyone screamed, and when I turned around President Obama was reaching out to shake my hand!! Our fitness teacher caught the moment in the picture I've attached to this email (Damon I love you!). I've also attached a picture taken by our 7th/8th grade science teacher (Melissa, I love you too!!). It was amazing. Right behind him were Michelle Obama and Arne Duncan (you can see them to the right in one of the pictures)....just out of being in the right place at the right time I was able to shake all their hands! Obama said how happy he was to have a break from the White House to visit the school, cracked a few jokes about who was a better story reader (both he and Michelle read the story), and called on the kids to work hard in school, listen to their parents and teachers, and dream big--his comments are in the audio clip I'm sending you (it plays in iTunes, and should work in other media players). The school was buzzing all day long, and probably will be for a long time.