Young students get to know Obama

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 21, 2009

VIDALIA — They might not have always sat quietly in their seats, but the second graders at Vidalia Lower Elementary paid attention during the presidential inauguration Tuesday.

The vast majority of the students have only known one president in their lifetime, and none of them can remember another one, so Tuesday was a momentous occasion for them.

While teacher Shelia Lanius fought with computer technology to get a streaming video of the inaugural events on a screen in her classroom, Iren Rodgers, 7, fidgeted nervously.

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“I want to see Barack Obama on there,” he said.

Several students stood in their chairs and pointed at the television through which the computer’s video signal was routed when the new president’s face came on the screen, simultaneously shouting, “Obama! There he is!”

“I like him,” 8-year-old Kendrick Washington said. “I think he will take care of the United States of America.”

Charnesia White, 7, felt similarly.

“I like Obama because he is taking care of our planet and our world,” she said.

Having a new president is always very important, 8-year-old Tommy Ngo said.

“He is important because everybody voted for him,” Ngo said.

The students didn’t as easily recognize Vice President Joe Biden, but they did recognize the Obama family.

“His children are nice and pretty,” White said. “Michelle Obama is quite pretty.”

But maybe the reason the second graders didn’t recognize Biden was because he hadn’t made the rounds of the popular children’s programming.

“(Obama’s) daughter was on the Disney Channel,” 9-year-old Madison O’Quinn said.

Down the hall in Barbie Sanders’ second-grade class, Orianna Banks, 7, said there was one major policy decision on the new president’s part that helped her decide to support him.

“One day somebody will see the Obamas getting a dog, and dogs are my favorite animals,” she said.

It was for similar reasons that Lizzie Kirby, 8, found the new president inspirational.

“He could change the world and make it a better place,” she said. “He could find owners for dogs and pets.”

The weeks leading up to and following the election were a time of great interest for the second graders, though there was some confusion the day after the election about the fact that Obama was not in office yet, Sanders said.

“Once they get started on it, you might as well stop and go with it,” she said.

“They love to talk about it.”