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CKHS students offer differing views on Obama’s speech

Sarah Fisher’s AP world history class watches President Obama’s address to the youth of America Sept. 8. - Steven DeDual/staff photo
Sarah Fisher’s AP world history class watches President Obama’s address to the youth of America Sept. 8.
— image credit: Steven DeDual/staff photo

Sarah Fisher’s AP world history class is full of students on whom the president’s address may have been wasted.

“I thought (Obama’s) speech was a tad bit condescending to those of us in AP classes,” said Kyle Arvila, a Central Kitsap High School sophomore. “We already take responsibility for our own educations.”

The speech, which lasted less than an hour, was aimed at students in an effort to get them thinking more seriously about education.

Obama spent the better part of his time on stage talking to America’s youth about taking responsibility for their own, individual educations.

He started by telling a story about a time growing up in Indonesia when his mother would wake him at 4:30 a.m. to give him some extra lessons. He would complain about how early it was but it was the only time his mother had to give him such lessons.

“She would say, ‘Listen buster, this is no picnic for me either,’” he said.

He said parents and teachers have a responsibility to their children to help guide them through their education, but he said not enough students actually take responsibility for themselves.

“None of it matters unless you fulfill your responsibilities,” Obama said. “You have a responsibility to yourself.”

Obama also explained the importance of education not only for individuals, but for the country as a whole, with statements like, “The future of America depends on you,” and “If you quit, you are not just quitting on yourself, you are quitting on your country.”

Some students said they were moved by the speech, but most said they were either offended by the president’s speech or they felt there was some ulterior motive behind it.

“I think it is a publicity stunt,” Erik Andersson, CKHS sophomore said. “Are kids so bad we need the president to address them? It’s convenient that this speech happens now when there are other big issues like health care going on. I think it was a waste of time.”

“He was kind of guilt-tripping us,” Arvila said.

CKHS Principal Steve Coons told Fisher’s students the president often speaks to the people in times of crisis. He asked the students to think about whether or not the current educational climate is a crisis or not and posed a question to them if they felt it was.

“Is this any different from any other crisis?” he asked.

While viewing of the president’s speech with classes was made available to teachers, the viewing was voluntary for teachers and students, according to district spokesman David Beil.

“This was not made mandatory by the district,” Beil said. “Students were given the opportunity to leave the room during the speech if they chose to.”

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