Obama to Students: Don’t Quit On Yourself or Your Country

By Catherine Gewertz — September 08, 2009 1 min read
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Okay, I can’t help it. I tried to blog about something other than President Obama’s speech to students today (see entry below). But now it’s been given, and our big TV screen here in the newsroom had irresistible shots of kids standing up, applauding the president, taking pictures with their cellphones, appearing to listen intently, etc. So hey, the least I can do is link you to the prepared text of the speech and a video of the actual address.

The address was aimed at kids in kindergarten through high school, but the president hit the dropout note again and again. One of the quotes most likely to be repeated (for my money, anyway): “You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job.” (The point being that young people will need a good education for everything they want to do.)

Obama said he understood that life challenges can make it hard to focus on school, but that young people have to summon that focus anyway, set goals, and enlist adult support to meet them. He hit the deferred-gratification note a few times, too, noting that students won’t excel at everything they try right away, and that it takes persistence, even in the face of failure, to succeed. He also sought to stir students’ patriotism, saying that giving up on themselves is giving up on their country. “Don’t let your family down... don’t let your country down,” Obama said. “Make us all proud.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the High School Connections blog.