Students Protest When School Won't Show Obama's Speech

President Delivers Message To Nation's Schoolchildren

President Barack Obama's message to the nation's schoolchildren on Tuesday sparked a protest at one central Indiana high school, where administrators decided not to show the speech.

Analysis: Capitol WatchBlog: School Dazed & Confused More Resources: Speech Transcript, Video

In a pep talk that kept clear of politics, Obama on Tuesday challenged the nation's students to take pride in their education -- and stick with it even if they don't like every class or must overcome tough circumstances at home.

About 100 students walked out of class at Pendleton Heights High School and gathered in the school's foyer to protest, 6News' Renee Jameson reported.

"I protested because we should be able to watch it," said student Teddy Armstrong. "He's our president. We should have the choice, and he wanted every student to watch it."

A statement from the South Madison Community School Corporation indicated that teachers would have the opportunity to show the recorded speech after watching it themselves.

"In order to be sensitive to the concerns of parents, while still providing an opportunity for teachers to show the speech if they determine it is relevant to course curriculum, the school district made the decision not to air the broadcast live," the statement read.

Superintendent Tom Warmke, who declined to do an interview about the protest, did not say if any parents had asked the district not to show the speech.

Students told Jameson that they were given detention for participating in the protest.

"I just didn't think it was fair that, at the last hour, we weren't watching it because new ideals were wrong," said student Luis Ramirez. "We're the future. We should choose our choice. "

Greenwood schools also declined to show the president's speech on Tuesday, while most other area districts left the decision up to individual principals or teachers.

Inspiration For IPS Students

At Indianapolis Public Schools' Emmerich Manual High School, students in an advanced placement social studies class drew parallels between Obama's message and their own lives.


In a school with a graduation rate of 39 percent, teacher Sean Marcum said showing the speech was a no-brainer.

"Anything that will help us out in the classroom and to help the kids understand that it is important if we don't do it, they're not going to move forward," he told 6News' Jennifer Carmack.

Students said the president's message urging them to stay in school hit home.

"I didn't get anything political out of it. It was inspirational motivation," said student Elizabeth McKinney.

"We go through things at home, but it's up to us to get our education," said Kenneth Washington.

An IPS spokeswoman said the district only received one call about Tuesday's speech, and that was from a parent wanting to make sure her son was going to be able to watch.