For the better part of a 38-minute speech Monday morning in Arlington, President Obama targeted lawmakers and education wonks as he held forth on proposals to revise the No Child Left Behind law.
But for a minute or two, he gave a shout-out to two eighth-graders in the Kenmore Middle School gymnasium: Roberto Claure and Katherine Diaz.
Here’s how White House transcribers relayed Obama’s words:
“I’m talking about students like Katherine Diaz, who says, ‘I think I should have the opportunity to be who I want to be.’ And it turns out that Katherine wants to either be a professional violinist or the first woman president of the United States. (Laughter and applause.) So she’s still -- Katherine is still -- she’s not sure yet. (Laughter.) She might do both. You could do it one at a time -- professional violinist, president. (Laughter.)
“Or I’m talking about Roberto Claure. Where’s Roberto? There’s Roberto right here. He says, ‘With good schools and good teachers, we can grow up to be anything we want.’ (Applause.) It turns out Roberto wants to be the first Hispanic president of the United States. (Laughter and applause.) So you guys will have to work out sort of the sequence. (Laughter.)
“Roberto, Katherine, the millions of students like them across the country, they need us to offer them the best education possible -- not only because that’s how they’ll succeed, not only because that’s how we’ll out-compete countries around the world, but because that’s what we do. That’s who we are. That’s what America is about.”
It turned out that Roberto and Katherine last year won prestigious Jack Kent Cooke scholarships, which offer help for high-achieving, low-income students to stay on the college track.
After Obama spoke, the two students told reporters that they were startled at the presidential mentions. Katherine, 14, said she had been called into a counselor’s office a few days ago during lunch to speak with somebody who turned out to be a presidential aide gathering speech material.
“I was so shocked,” Katherine said. She added that Obama got the quote right.