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Local High School Students React To President's Education Speech

In a classroom at Whetstone High School, these senior Advanced Placement Literature students watched President Obama urge them to stay in school and excel. Their teacher, Amanda Reidenbaugh, handed out copies of the speech's text, and the students' pens took notes in the margins.

After the speech, student Brian Adams said the speech was important because he believes his generation isn't adequately engaged in current events or civic life. "What if there is no president in 20 years? What if we throw our country in the tanker? That's why I thought this was so important, because we have to fix our country because we're getting all the problems thrown on us," said Adams. Kevin Zahler says his generation will have to deal with inherited domestic problems in an increasingly competitive global market. "Since we are going to be thrown into the fire, I think he's kind of stressing the fact that education is so important today, because I think we take for granted what it's going to mean in the future," said Zahler. Whetstone and other Columbus Public Schools always planned to show the speech to students But other Central Ohio Districts struggled with whether or not to air the speech. Cory Mehaffey did not see what the fuss was all about. "I'd really disagree with there being any kind of controversy. I think the youth of this nation really needed to hear that speech because we really don't work as hard as we could," said Mehaffey. After some hand-wringing, Hilliard City Schools decided to show the address, but sent notices home to parents saying they could choose an alternate activity for their child. A Hilliard City Schools spokesperson says that at Hilliard Darby High School, which has about 1600 students, only six students opted out of viewing the speech.