Saturday night I went on Facebook to see that my home page had exploded. All of Desert Vista High School was screaming “Obama is coming!” in unison. At first it was hard to believe; I thought it might even be a joke. But President Obama really came, on the second day of the school year.
Unfortunately, space was limited, so it was difficult for the school administration to decide who could attend. In the end, seniors were allowed to go — which I was very glad to hear — as well as the student council and select staff members.
“When I heard that seniors got to see him I was really excited,” said senior Sara Slosky. “I feel so lucky that we got the opportunity to listen.”
The day of the speech, all of those attending were sent to lunch around 10:15 a.m., to give us time to pass through security, which took a couple of hours. Once we were in the gym — which had been miraculously transformed into a room suitable for a President — we had to wait for another hour, until around 1 p.m. At that point we said the pledge and heard a choir performance, but were only partially paying attention; we were impatient to see the President.
When President Obama was introduced, everyone went wild. I could not even see him for the first few minutes because of the sea of smartphones that had risen from the crowd. After we got over the initial “Oh-my-goodness-Obama-is-actually-at-our-high-school” reaction and sang “Happy Birthday” to him, we quieted down to hear his speech.
Obama spoke mainly about the housing market. He first detailed the improvement of the housing market since the recession in 2008, and then talked about where he would like to go from here. He wants to hold lenders and homeowners accountable, to decrease speculation, and to make buying and renting more affordable.
He addressed the students as well as the general audience, reminding us that someday soon, we will rent or buy our own apartment or house, and we want our options to be affordable.
The students reacted well to the speech, even the ones who are not politically minded.
“My favorite part of the day was definitely watching the reactions of my classmates to the speech,” said senior Jay Raju. “After a little while, a lot of the less-interested kids turned around and took pictures of themselves with Obama in the background, and sitting in the bleachers I could see everyone who did.”
Still, many of us wished we had the most exciting job, which fell to our student body president, Rachel Clark. She got to greet the President, shaking his hand and chatting with him for a few minutes before the speech.
“Meeting the President was the most amazing opportunity of my life so far,” said Clark. “It was such a humbling experience to meet such an influential American.”
Desert Vista was privileged to have this visit from President Barack Obama. We hope that he enjoyed his time here as much as we did.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Jessica Tueller is a senior at Desert Vista High School.