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Kids Have Choice Words for Obama-Speech Controversy

By Michele McNeil — September 08, 2009 1 min read

The honor of introducing President Barack Obama at Wakefield High School today went to senior Tim Spicer, who has to be one of the most popular kids in school today.

He told Alyson, who called in just a few minutes ago from the school, that not only did he get a presidential seal as a thank-you gift from Obama, but he also got the president to autograph the introductory remarks he had carefully typed out.

Spicer acknowledged, though, that he was far more nervous meeting Obama before the speech than actually standing in front of a televised audience and introducing the president.

As for the all of the hubbub that preceded the speech, Spicer told Alyson the controversy was “pointless.”

And 14-year-old Elizabeth Brantley, who was one of 40 9th graders who participated in a round table before the speech with Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, called the controversy “kind of dumb.”

Another 14-year-old, Max Rosenberg, had even stronger words in speaking to Alyson, saying people who didn’t want Obama to address students are “racist.”

The 20-minute round table in the school’s library featured these 9th graders—nearly 40 in all—who had all sorts of questions for Obama—none of which focused on the controversy that engulfed Obama before the address. Instead, they wanted to know: How has your life changed? How would your life have been different if your dad had been around when growing up? Why did you pick Wakefield over other schools? How can I become president?

To the last one, Obama advised: Don’t post anything on Facebook or YouTube that you’ll later regret, work hard in school, and be passionate about something.

The very last question from students involved health care: Why can’t the United States have universal health coverage?

And so Obama got to tout his big health-care address to Congress tomorrow.

Read Obama’s full answers to these questions and more in this transcript.

By the way, EdSec Duncan was at the round table, too. But Alyson reported that he was not nearly the star of the show, as the students called him the “other guy” in the room.

(Photo: Wakefield High School Senior Tim Spicer and President Obama. Gerald Herbert/AP)

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