Tag Archives: School

President Obama’s Back to School Speech

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First Lady Michelle Obama Offers Gratitude and Support for the School Nutrition Association

Posted by: Audiegrl

First Lady Michelle Obama speaks to SNA

First Lady Michelle Obama speaks to the School Nutrition Association Legislative Action Conference in Washington, Monday, March 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

For decades, we’ve been looking to you for help in achieving our nation’s most urgent priorities,” credited First Lady Michelle Obama, addressing more than 750 attendees of the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) annual Legislative Action Conference, being held this week in Washington, D.C.

The First Lady acknowledged that efforts and achievements of the nation’s school nutrition professionals go largely unrecognized and unacknowledged by many. “There are not a lot of headlines about (how) school meals may be the only meals many children get all day,” she noted. “And most people don’t know how the cafeteria is one of the most important classrooms in the school.”

Mrs. Obama welcomed the partnership of SNA and its 50,000 members in joining her newly launched “Let’s Move” initiative to address childhood obesity.

The School Nutrition Association is honored to have First Lady Michelle Obama recognize the efforts of our school nutrition professionals, proud partners of the Let’s Move campaign. Preparing healthy well-balanced school meals while meeting federal nutrition standards and staying within budget is a tremendous challenge for our cash-strapped school districts,” noted SNA President Dora Rivas, MS, RD, SNS, who also serves as Executive Director of Child Nutrition Services for Dallas (Texas) Independent School District.

This week, SNA is calling on Congress to follow the President and First Lady’s lead and provide school nutrition programs with critical funds for healthy school meals,” continued Rivas. “For the 31 million children who eat school lunch each day, the upcoming re-authorization of the Child Nutrition Act is much more than just another congressional debate. It means nutrition for a hungry child, fuel for a successful school day, a healthy solution for a busy parent and a chance for children to learn about balanced meals and establish lifelong positive eating habits.”

In her address, the First Lady affirmed her understanding and support of many of SNA’s top priorities, including the need for adequate funding, reducing paperwork that presents obstacles to participation, improving the quality of foods served, providing equipment support and ensuring training for school nutrition professionals.

Mrs. Obama also spoke on the intent of the Let’s Move campaign to eliminate all “food deserts”—communities without access to a supermarket—within seven years. She cited statistics that almost one-quarter of the nation’s population lives in such areas, purchasing foods from gas stations and convenience stores. Children can have “the most delicious healthy school lunches, but it won’t help if their families don’t have access to a supermarket.”

She also cited the importance of physical activity as a tent pole in successfully addressing obesity concerns. “We know that healthy eating is only half the battle,” she noted.

The First Lady was extraordinarily complimentary of the efforts of school nutrition professionals working in schools and districts across the country. “You don’t just shape the future of individual students—you shape the future of America,” said Mrs. Obama. “For decades, we have looked to you for help in achieving our nation’s most urgent priorities. Let’s rally the country around a single, ambitious goal that kids born today reach a healthy weight by the time they become adults.”

I am thrilled that you have agreed to work with us to meet this goal,” the First Lady concluded. “We are going to need everything you’ve got. We will need your ideas—both big and small. Let’s be clear, the only way we’re going to solve [the problem of child obesity] is by working together.”

Full remarks by the First Lady

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General Colin Powell: Helping America Become a Grad Nation

Posted by: Audiegrl

President Barack Obama (R) speaks as Founding Chairman General Colin Powell (2nd L), and current Chair Alma Powell (L) of American's Promise Alliance, listen during an event at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce March 1, 2010 in Washington, DC. Obama spoke on the administration's effort to improve the nation's schools. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images North America)

General Colin Powell @ WhiteHouse.gov~My wife Alma and I are honored to have President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joining us today to announce a new multi-year campaign to mobilize all Americans to help end the high school dropout crisis. We call this work Grad Nation.

For the past two years, America’s Promise Alliance has been traveling the country, raising awareness about how high dropout rates and low readiness for college and work undermine our nation’s future. In nearly all 50 states and 55 cities, we have convened high-level Dropout Prevention Summits that brought together nearly 30,000 mayors and governors, business and community leaders, school administrators, students and parents. They have committed to concrete action plans to improve graduation rates in their states and communities.

General Colin Powell and his wife, Alma PowellTo that end, the time for talking and planning has ended. Now we must turn our attention to solutions. This means acting on all the lessons we’ve learned at our summits, and more importantly, making sure all Americans see their stake in this and join us to reach an important goal, which is to see that 90 percent of today’s fourth-graders graduate from high school on time. If we achieve this, we will not only be a more healthy and prosperous nation, but we can also help realize President Obama’s goal of making the United States the global pacesetter of college graduation by 2020.

The simple proposition is this—improving graduation rates is not just an education issue; it’s a community issue. We cannot expect more from our schools and young people until all Americans are prepared to be more involved, because so many of the building blocks that make for success in school involve effort outside of the classroom.

Grad Nation is the way for us to mobilize to win this battle.

Grad NationMuch like the Olympic athletes we’ve been inspired by recently, we all need to push past our comfort levels and make our work benefit something greater than ourselves — our country. Whether it is through City Year’s “In School and On Track” initiative or The First Tee’s National School Program, our nearly 400 national Alliance partners and their local affiliates are stepping up to lead the way. We’re already seeing the impact of this type work in cities like Philadelphia and Tucson, which have improved their graduation rates by more than 20 percentage points in a decade.

So the question remains: What will you do? How can you help? The choice is simple. If we are to remain a great nation, we must be a Grad Nation.

To learn more about America’s Promise Alliance and Grad Nation, visit: www.americaspromise.org.

Read Transcripts of Speeches by General and Mrs. Powell

General Colin Powell is founding chairman of America’s Promise Alliance

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Little-Known Black History Fact: Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

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Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington (1869-1939)

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington (1869-1939)

When the students at the University of Pennsylvania enter its veterinary school, one of the first portraits they see is of Augustus Nathaniel Lushington. Lushington, a native of Trinidad, became one of the first Black degreed veterinarians in 1897.

Looking for job opportunities, Lushington left his British West Indies home with his new wife and ended up with a vet degree. Ironically, he had come to America looking for opportunity and ended up finding discrimination and racism.

He did most of his work out of Lynchburg, Virginia, where he would walk miles to treat sick animals in farm country. White farmers often requested his services but then refused to pay, and as a black man in the South in the early 1900s, Lushington had no rights for taking legal action or right to refuse services to the non-payers. Working for little pay, he took on other jobs, including meat inspector and a weekend probation officer.

Though he was subject to the social depression of blacks in the 19th century, Lushington’s work spoke volumes, and he gained national recognition. He held memberships with the Federal Department of Agriculture and Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce.

Lushington worked until he died in 1939. His practice was passed down to a father-son team, George Jackson Sr. and Jr.

Note: It was not until the veterinary school at Tuskegee Institute was established by Dr. William Henry Waddell IV that the number of African-American veterinarians in the United States began to increase.

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First Lady Michelle Obama Hosts the White House Governors Ball Talent Preview

Post by: Audiegrl

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama poses for a group photo with music students from Myrtilla Miner elementary school at the White House in Washington February 21, 2010.

U.S. First lady Michelle Obama poses for a group photo with music students from Myrtilla Miner elementary school at the White House in Washington February 21, 2010.

Today the First Lady gave a group of Washington, DC music students a special preview of the 2010 Governors’ Ball performance. Grammy Award Winning artist, Harry Connick Jr. spend time talking to students and closed out the event with a song, joined by a few residents from the New Orleans Musicians’ Village. The Musician’s Village was conceived by New Orleans native Harry Connick, Jr. in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to rebuild homes for many of New Orleans cherished but displaced artists, those who have defined the city’s culture and created the sounds that have shaped the musical vernacular of the world.



Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our brand new section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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President Obama Announces Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge

Posted by: Audiegrl


The White House and the Department of Education have announced a new Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge and are inviting public schools across the country to compete to have President Obama speak at their graduation. At the beginning of the school year, the President encouraged students across the country to take responsibility for their education, study hard and graduate from high school. The Race to the Top High School Commencement challenge encourages schools to show how they are making great strides on personal responsibility, academic excellence and college readiness.

Applications must be completed by students and submitted by a high school’s Principal using the Commencement Challenge Application Form no later than Monday, March 15th at 11:59 pm EST. Each school may submit only one application and high schools must be public to apply. Following the application deadline, six finalists will be selected by the White House and Department of Education. These schools will then be featured on the White House website and the public will have an opportunity to vote for the three schools they think best meet the President’s goal. The President will select a national winner from these three finalists and visit the winning high school to deliver the commencement address to the class of 2010.

The application’s four essay questions focus on demonstrating how the school is helping prepare students to meet the President’s 2020 goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. Applications will be judged based on the school’s performance and dedication to providing students an excellent education that will prepare them to graduate ready for college and career choices. Each question must be answered in full to qualify and data that substantiates each answer is strongly encouraged.

In addition to the required essay responses, applicants are invited to submit the following optional supplemental materials:

  • A video — no more than 2 minutes in length — showing the school’s culture and character and highlighting how it is a model of educational success for other high schools around the country.
  • Supplemental data on key indicators such as attendance, student achievement, graduation rates and where available, college enrollment rates. This data may be presented in the form of tables, graphs or spreadsheets and should be used to help the school make the most compelling arguments possible.

Please use the Commencement Challenge Application Form to apply.

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First Lady Michelle Obama Travels to Philadelphia: Making Healthy Food Accessible & Affordable

Posted by: Audiegrl

First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks on the "Let's Move" health initiative at Fairhill Elementary School in Philadelphia, Pa., Feb. 19, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks on the Let's Move health initiative at Fairhill Elementary School in Philadelphia, Pa., Feb. 19, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)


With Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in tow, First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to Philadelphia yesterday as part of the Let’s Move! campaign, a nationwide effort to rally the country around one goal, ending the epidemic of childhood obesity.

During her remarks at Fairhill Elementary School, Mrs. Obama applauded the city of Philadelphia for their “stand” to end childhood obesity:

Six years ago, when this city had fewer supermarkets per person than almost anywhere in America, all right, that was six years ago, when many folks had no access to healthy foods; six years ago many neighborhoods had alarming rates of obesity-related conditions like heart disease and diabetes — the folks in this city, you all could have decided that you had an unsolvable problems on your hands, right? You could have done that. You could have decided that these problems were just too big and too complicated and too entrenched and thrown your hands up and walked away.

But instead you all took a stand, a really important, collaborative stand. You decided first that no family in this city should be spending a fortune on high-priced, low-quality foods because they have no other options. You decided that no child should be consigned to a life of poor health because of what neighborhood his or her family lives in. And you decided that you weren’t going to just talk about the problem or wring your hands about the problems, but you were going to act.

And that’s precisely the kind of determination, the kind of commitment that we need to address the epidemic of childhood obesity in this country. And this issue is an issue of great concern to me, and I’ve said this before, not because I’m First Lady — or not just because I’m First Lady of this country — but because I’m a mother, and I care about my kids and I care about all of our kids. And I know that this issue is a great concern to all of you, everyone around this country. We all care about our kids. That’s why last week we enthusiastically and proudly launched “Let’s Move.” (Applause.) “Let’s Move” is a nationwide campaign to rally this country around one single but ambitious goal, and that is to end the epidemic of childhood obesity in a generation so that the kids born today grow up with a healthy weight. Simple but ambitious.

Mrs. Obama also announced a new part of Let’s Move! — the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, a multi-million dollar public and private investment to eliminate food deserts in America within seven years:


“So with your success here in Pennsylvania, what you’ve shown us is that when we provide the right support and incentives, then business leaders like Pat Burns and Jeff Brown, they’re going to take the chance to invest in our communities. And when we bring fresh, healthy food to communities, what do we learn? People will buy it, right? People will buy it. These stores are turning a profit. And what’s going on is that they’re doing well by doing good. Isn’t that something? (Applause.)

So it’s because of this example that part of “Let’s Move” we created this Healthy Food Financing Initiative that’s modeled on what’s been going on here. And as Secretary Geithner said, with a modest initial investment of about $400 million a year, we’re going to use that money to leverage hundreds of millions more from private and non-profit sectors to bring grocery stores and other healthy food retailers to underserved communities all across this country. If you can do it here, we can do it around the country. (Applause.) And our goal is ambitious. It’s to eliminate food deserts in America completely in seven years. (Applause.)

Again, we know this is ambitious, but we also know that tackling the issue of accessibility and affordability is key to achieving the overall goal of solving childhood obesity in this generation.”

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To learn more about what you can do to help solve the childhood obesity epidemic – visit LetsMove.gov and become a fan of Let’s Move! on FaceBook.

Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our brand new section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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