Obama, Australian PM Visit Wakefield High School

by ARLnow.com March 7, 2011 at 1:13 pm 5,528 77 Comments

(Updated at 1:15 p.m.) President Obama, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Education Secretary Arne Duncan visited Wakefield High School today.

Obama and Gillard “discussed differences and similarities between their countries, [including] football and foods,” according to CBS White House Correspondent Mark Knoller.

Police shut down a number of streets in the area as a security measure during the visit, which wrapped up around 12:30 p.m.

Arlington Public Schools issued the following press release about the visit.

Arlington, VA — Today, President Barack Obama made an unannounced visit to a class of students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Va. Accompanying the President on the surprise stopover were the Honorable Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia, and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

After being greeted upon arrival by Arlington Superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy, School Board Chair Libby Garvey and Wakefield principal Dr. Christian Willmore, the dignitaries surprised a class of 22 juniors in the midst of their Advanced Placement U.S./Virginia History class. After brief remarks by the visitors, the students had an opportunity to ask questions and discuss current issues with their guests. Before the dignitaries departed, Colette Fraley, the Arlington and state Region IV Teacher of the Year and teacher of the class, thanked them for the special honor and accepted gifts for the students from Prime Minister Gillard.

This week marks the Australian Prime Minister’s first official visit to the United States. Gillard has a strong interest in education and served as her country’s minister of education before being elected as Prime Minister in 2010.

Today was President Obama’s second outing to Wakefield High School. His first visit was in September 2009 when the school was selected as the location for the President’s back school message.

Dr. Christian Willmore, principal of Wakefield, said, “Today’s visit was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Wakefield and our students. We are extremely honored that President Obama, Prime Minister Gillard and Secretary Duncan devoted time from their schedules today to engage our students in such a special way.” He continued, “The relevance of our students’ daily work in the classroom is heightened when they have an opportunity to spend time with role models from our community and beyond. I am confident that today’s visit by these leaders will serve to further inspire our students as they work to become the future leaders in our community and our nation.”

(An earlier version of this story reported that a VIP would be visiting the school, but did not say who the VIP was. The visit was not on the president’s public schedule this morning.)

Photo (left) courtesy Pat Teske / Arlington Public Schools

  • jen

    psst. it’s the FLOTUS.

    • It’s because Wakefield has all the fatties

  • bk

    Arne duncan is coming

  • Wakefield Mom

    I heard it was Arne, but I vote for FLOTUS too! I’ve never heard of advance security like this for Arne, anyway. Heck he lives in Arlingtron. Go FLOTUS!

  • Snookie

    It’s The Situation.

    • Bill


  • el fat kid

    Arne Duncan is a joke.

    • Lacy Forest


      • el fat kid

        If he did such a good job with the public schools in Chicago why did both his kids go to private school?

        • mehoo

          I googled this to find out more, and immediately found this:

          “Science magazine recently asked Mr. Duncan where his daughter attends school and “how important was the school district in your decision about where to live?” He responded: “She goes to Arlington [Virginia] public schools. That was why we chose where we live, it was the determining factor…”


          So you appear to be wrong.

          • mehoo

            Perhaps you mean they went to private school in Chicago before they came here? I can’t find info on that.

          • mehoo

            Perhaps you are confusing Duncan with Obama?

  • David Flocka Baals II

    It is Michelle Obama.

  • JamesE

    It’s Hosni Mubarak

  • borf

    I vote for Up with People.

    • GMo

      Up with Mini-skirts.

      • PghBigDog

        Down with pants!

  • CW

    It is Charlie Sheen. Who better to give the kids advice?

  • Chalie Sheen

    It’s just me, Arlington. I’m here for a speacial drug awareness education progam.

    • CrystalMikey

      Are the goddesses here with you?

    • Cat

      New to school lunches: tiger blood!

  • Southeast Ben

    DARE was awesome. Sheen should be their spokesperson.

  • southside

    It has to be Obama. They have EVERYTHING shut down over there there.

  • g

    It’s Joe Biden

    • local


  • jan

    so for how long do they close down roads? What roads are closed? Hope no one has an emergency or critical appointment
    such as a job interview.

  • Brian

    Y’all were way off. It was POTUS and the Australian PM Gillard.

  • Kate


  • FedUp

    Very cool!

    • NomNom

      Agreed! Pretty jealous of these kids.

  • Arlwhenever

    When John Hinckley shot Ronald Reagan FBI agents found in Hinckley’s hotel room the front section of the Washington Post with the Washington Hilton speech agenda item circled on that day’s published listing of the President’s schedule. The schedule and location of POTUS comings and goings in the DC area have been mostly unpublished since.

  • Kate

    Hm, where are they having lunch?

    Time for a Ray’s run…

    • TryTheTacos

      Right – it’s only customary to take visiting world leaders to get a burger if they are in the neighborhood!

    • Peter

      or maybe the weenie beenie?

      • FrenchyB


    • CW

      Hopefully none of the soulless commercialized places in Shirlington. Maybe one of the taco trucks on the side of four mile run drive?

      • Kate

        Julia’s more of a sit-down gal. Maybe they’re at regular Ray’s.

  • That PM is kinda hot

    • CrystalMikey


      And she’d have that Aussie accent. 😉

      • Kate

        She’s Welsh, originally. (I’m an Aussie citizen.) Google her and tell me if you still think she’s hot.

        • CrystalMikey

          OK….she’s officially a “meh” for me after the suggested Google research.

        • Glebe Roader

          Maybe when she was younger …

        • borf

          So she’s a Welsh MILF instead. I wouldn’t kick her out of bed for eating crackers.

  • shirley

    i heard that the prime minister wanted to go to the planetarium and see if the stars were upside down or not. too bad the funding has been cut.

  • LyonSteve

    Does the Sheriff really need a K9 unit?

    • cc911

      Yes he does searches in the jail for contraband. Helps out ACPD on occassion as well.

      • LyonSteve

        I didn’t think of that, the first part makes perfect sense.

      • cj

        She. The Sheriff.

        • Glebe Roader

          Who’s hotter? Arlington County Sheriff or Australian Prime Minister?

  • steve

    Why not visit a DC Public School or would that be too embrassasing to be seen internationally?

    • DC public schools are good enough for his kids.

      • LyonSteve

        Whose kids?

  • jan

    only 22 of the students got to see them?

    • angel

      yes, he did. Ms. Fraley’s 5th period APUSH class

    • Really…

      Not only did they only pick one class of 22 students (the elementary and middle schools he visited even had more) but they pick the AP class with the teacher whose won an award… obviously you’re everyday suburban high school. What?! Dumb… if you’re gonna show a school for what it is show the whole spectrum and give the school as a whole credit without patting the “advanced” students on the back for being honored to meet Obama while the others probably had the hallway blocked off. Possible he can’t control a full room of highschoolers though. Admittedly, it’s a gift if you can, but you’d think they’d given more the opportunity. Oh well.

      • Really…

        Won’t rant next time and I’ll fix my own typos so I don’t call other people dumb and sound stupid myself. But in theory, I still stand by it. 🙂

  • bennynojets

    Were parents allowed to opt out their kids from hearing the President speak? Who knows what type of awful stuff the President could be spewing! He might turn them all into liberals!

    • R.Griffon

      Liberals? He could turn them all into MOOSLIMS!!!

      • bennynojets

        Or Kenyans!

        • Tabby

          Worse, an intellectual.

  • Tester

    I wander why the president took her to an Arlington public school and not to a Washington DC school… hint hint.

    • Nance

      The Secret Service already has Wakefield all figured out, and it’s not hard to secure its location. It would be hard to close down that kind of perimeter around a DC school.

      • ARLRAT

        NO its because no one whose child is slated for that school wants them going there, they’re all looking for transfers somewhere else. So to try and “diversify” the school they’re making it look like a neat place to send your kids, hence Obama visiting…

        • dad

          Not true, I know plenty parents who are perfectly happy with Wakefield. And the place is extremely diverse, no majority. The place looks like a Benetton ad.

  • CrystalMikey

    Got to love a non-proofread press release, from a school system no less.

  • When next?

    This is the second time in two years Obama has visited Wakefield. I wonder if he’ll stop over once the new Wakefield high school is built.

    • I doubt they will finish in time for him to visit as POTUS

    • Overgrown Bush

      Easy in, easy out.

  • Arlwhenever

    If I was President I would want to visit students in the HILT, HILTEX and vocational classes to inspire them to stick it out and earn their diplomas, move on to NOVA and then claw their way into a four-year college. But what the heck do I know? I didn’t go to a prep school followed by Columbia and Harvard.

    • fattacopopekidwhine

      And you are also writing silly blog comments at 5:22pm instead of working harder to achieve an opinion that counts somewhere, so who’s the fool? =)

    • SouthArlJD

      Seems to me that’s exactly what Obama did the LAST time he visited Wakefield HS. This time he wanted to encourage the kids who are going through the time and trouble it takes to be in an AP class, or does praising effort and achievement conflict with your proletarian values? Yay for the crabpot syndrome. Let’s not have anyone stand out academically. That would be all elitist of them and we can’t have that.

      • Arlwhenever

        God, it pains me to admit you guys are right.

      • Just combine them… It’s not all about you

        There’s nothing wrong with the concept of working hard and pushing forward if that’s actually what you’re doing, but being someone who grew up in Arlington schools there were a lot of times when the smartest kids weren’t in all the AP classes and yet still had great academic records and went on to amazing schools, but often they also had a social life and participated in extra-curricular activities that allowed them to grow outside of the classroom as well. Arlington school are a strong system and it’s not fair to say that the only students who we pat on the back for pushing up to the top are those in AP or gifted classes of any kind. Point is, they shouldn’t have picked one class of only 22 students who had a teacher who won an award previously (sounds like just more media attention for that event/school based on something from the past). There’s no reason with all the stupid reasons to have assemblies in school these days that they couldn’t have gathered a handful of 5th period history classes together maybe stretch it out to 50 or 60 students and really made it an opportunity for classes of BOTH types to get together and share in a motivational experience.

        PS- Criticizing the other posters for their thoughts and their educations basically says to me that you are very intelligent and smart, but likely missed the socializing you could’ve achieved by decreasing your class load ever so slightly to actually go out and make friends and not be an elitest bully. Congrats, you’re a real winner.

    • borf

      “But what the heck do I know? I didn’t go to a prep school followed by Columbia and Harvard.”

      We know.

  • Arl bug

    Okay, but only 22 students? There are more ap students deserving of the experience… And, just because one is in ESOL/HILT does not mean one is not smart or hard working. But then again regular students in non ap classes can also be hard workers who persevere too….. And also deserve to be recognized and inspired. Which class gets selected is all politics. Slimy, not about the kids politics.

  • Dan

    Well, I guess it is nicer than giving her a set of DVDs that she cannot play.


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