Michelle Obama Wows Crowd at Juanita Sanchez High School

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The wait didn’t diminish the thrill of seeing First Lady Michelle Obama ascend the stage at Juanita Sanchez High School for students Kimberly Olivos, Yardy Garcia and Cristal Marte as they prepared to cover the biggest story to ever hit their school.

As they made their way through security checks with their advisor Robert Nerney and waited with notebooks and pens along with members of the Rhode Island press corps, the students were ready to cover the First Lady’s visit for their new online school newspaper, the Cavalier Chronicle, and write a first-person commentary about their experience.

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“This is very emotional. It’s a great opportunity,” said Olivos. “I never thought I’d see the First Lady.

Garcia echoed his classmate’s excitement. “I never thought something like this would happen,” he said.

“I feel excited. I never thought I’d have her at my school,” said Marte, who plans to go to college and will apply to Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island.

If she had the opportunity to meet Mrs. Obama, Olivos said she would ask her what her plans are after her husband leaves the White House in two years. Marte agreed, and said she would also ask the First Lady about the programs she is working on.

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Nerney said he instructed the students to build their story from quotes, interview seniors who were invited to the talk and get their impressions, as well as write a first-person account about their experiences that day.

Michelle Obama visited Juanita Sanchez High School on Thursday, October 30 to campaign for Democratic nominee Gina Raimondo in her close race for governor. The event had the atmosphere of a Democratic party rally as the state’s congressional delegation – U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen James Langevin and David Cicilline – each took to the podium to pump up the crowd and urge Rhode Islanders to support Raimondo, who is campaigning on the theme of Rebuilding the Middle Class.

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Michelle Obama mingled with seniors after her talk at Juanita Sanchez High School.

As the music from “Dreamgirls” played in the background, Raimondo appeared and hit her campaign themes of improving the quality of life for Rhode Island’s middle class by stimulating the economy, creating jobs, equitable pay for women, and more affordable higher education.

“This election is not about the person on the stage,” she said. “This election is about what is going on in your lives.”

Raimondo introduced the First Lady who echoed those themes and urged the crowd to get out and vote on Election Day. “Votes are what decide elections in the United States. Every single one of those votes matters.”

Among the nearly 1,000 attendees at the rally were seniors at Juanita Sanchez, who had been invited to the event, and members of PPSD’s administrative team as well as Providence School Board and City Council members,

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According to Gina Picard, director of school transformation, who was among the crowd, this was a great opportunity for students to see the First Lady. “It helps our kids get excited about the election and expand their interest and curiosity as future voters and citizens in our society.”

After her talk, Obama submerged into the crowd and spoke to the seniors about persevering in  their education and going to college. She told them that it would be hard at times, but to stick with it.

“The students were really listening to her,” said Picard, who stood behind them. “She was accessible and so personable. They were energized – she really connected with them.”

School Board Secretary Nina Pande appreciated the First Lady’s message about the importance of education. “She told them that every day you have a new chance, every day you have an opportunity to change minds, to make good choices, to overcome difficulties and build toward a good future.

“She made a powerful statement about the importance of education as an unlimited pathway to the future,” Pande added. “She was very humble and upbeat and a true testament of what you can do with a good education. She hit it out of the park.”