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President Obama's Speech the Subject of Debate for LHS Students

On Tuesday, Sept. 8, the first day of school for many districts across the United States and the ninth day of school for St. Mary’s County Public Schools, President Obama addressed school-aged children from grades K through 12 in a national television address.

The President gave his speech from Wakefield High School in Arlington, Va., after being introduced by Senior Class President, Timothy Spices. The full text of the speech is available here.

Prior to the speech, Dr. Michael J. Martirano, SMCPS Superintendent, spoke with one Social Studies Class about what they were going to hear from the President. Standing before 20 or so students in Mr. Denny’s class prior to the commencement of the speech, Martirano told the class that “The President’s speech is a message of hope and optimism designed to enhance your educational experience. But, that ultimately the responsibility rests with you, the students.”

Martirano stated that the President’s message fits closely with SMCPS motto of ‘Work Hard and Be Nice.’ “Our goal is to have many students as possible earn their diplomas and be prepared for college and or the workforce.”

Given the controversy that preceded the airing of the live speech in the media, Leonardtown High School principal, David O’Neill was asked what the school had done to address that controversy. O’Neill stated that, “I agree with St. Mary’s County Public Schools policy to allow the broadcast. We discussed the subject with teachers and students could opt out of the speech if they have to.”

In Mr. Denny’s class, not one single student opted out and most watched the speech intently. After the speech was over, the Denny made arrangements for those that wanted to extend the class time so there could be a question and answer session about the speech.

When asked what the thought, one student stated that he thought the President should have addressed the need for students to apply themselves in every year not just this one and in each area of their lives and not just school.

When asked about setting goals as mentioned in the speech, most students indicated that they had set the goal of attending college after high school. One student stated that school should not be social but a place to concentrate on learning.

Martirano reinforced her remark by stating that school is a business and that the business is to educate children and prepare them for college and the workforce.

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