In back-to-school speech, President challenges American students to work hard for success in school and beyond
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama delivered a special back-to-school address to classrooms all over America. A crowd of excited students filled Wakefield High School’s gym in Arlington, Virginia, where the President spoke. His message was the same for all students, from kindergarteners to high school seniors: Work hard in school, take responsibility for your education, and set clear goals for the new school year.
“I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment, and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too,” the President told students.
“We can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world, and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities,” he said. “Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents, and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.”
The President said every student is responsible for being the best student he or she can be. He charged students with setting goals for their education, big and small.
“I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education and to do everything you can to meet them,” the President said. “Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community.”
Don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek advice from trusted adults, the President advised. They can help make sure that goal is within reach, and help track progress.
Strong Students, Strong Country
The President believes that students’ success in school will benefit the country. “This isn’t just important for your own life and your own future,” he explained. “What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. The future of America depends on you. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.”
Learning how to be a critical thinker and a problem-solver will not only help students lead better lives, but also help change the world for the better. “You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment,” he said.
Don’t Give Up
President Obama knows it’s not easy to be a star student, but he also doesn’t believe in giving up on yourself or your education. “Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up,” the President said. “No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.”
He told Wakefield High School’s students about his own hardships at school. His father left the family when he was only 2 years old, and his mother worked hard just to pay the bills. He felt different from his classmates, and lonely.
These challenges made it more difficult for him to focus on his schoolwork. But, the President said, the circumstances of your life are not “an excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude in school.That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. There is no excuse for not trying.”
“I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you,” the President concluded. “Make us all proud.”