A view from the inside: Gulf High students react to Obama's speech
(Times photo by Kainaz Amaria)
Claudia Alwood's AP European history students sat in rapt attention, flipping through the written text of President Obama's speech this afternoon as he spoke about personal responsibility and the need for a strong education.
Not one of the 24 students left the class as the president spoke. In fact, the school media center -- the designated location for teens who decided not to listen -- didn't have a single visitor for that purpose. If their classes showed the talk, the students stayed.
"Why would I not come?" wondered sophomore Garret Williams. "It's a message from the president. Even if it's bad, I can form my own opinion."
Once the speech ended, the class had a lively discussion about his message and how it fit into their lessons about the Renaissance.
"Obama mentioned a lot of humanist principles," sophomore Corey Palermo observed, kicking off a conversation about how people can evolve and improve upon themselves for the good of society.
They also talked about the politics that swirled around the speech as the date approached. Sophomore Samantha Cresoe said her parents had initial reservations, too, about the lessons that Obama might offer in a speech they hadn't seen.
Once they read it on Monday, she said, "It changed the mood." Her judgment in the end: "I thought it was really good."
For more on the speech and student reactions, visit the St. Petersburg Times and tampabay.com later.