RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - After days of controversy and public debate, to these Holton Elementary third, fourth and fifth graders the president's speech was just...
Jake Samet "Cool!"
Kaitlyn Carter: "Powerful!"
Julia Conte: "Encouraging!"
Evan Salp: "Special!"
And one word adjectives were not all. These 30 children all seemed to find their own personal messages.
"You won't always succeed the first time you try something but your failures will help you ultimately succeed," said third grader Jake Samet.
"I think he said that we need to work hard in school and do everything we can to be a good person to the community," said Kaitlyn Carter, fifth grader.
The students at Holton did not just hear from the president, they were also visited by a member of his cabinet.
"Reading is so important," said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke.
Locke used the speech as a way to tell students they need an education to get good jobs.
"I wish when I was growing up that we had every president giving a speech at the beginning of the school year. Democrat or republican," said Locke.
He was joined by Virginia's first lady Anne Holton, Congressman Bobby Scott and Mayor Dwight Jones. Parents were also on hand to watch the message.
"At the end of the day, who can object about studying hard, working hard and dong the right things for education," said Richmond parent Andrew Salp.
In the end only less than 10 of the district's 24,000 students opted out of hearing the speech.
"Those students who were opting out were provided accommodations and alternative activities so it was not a waste in the day for them," said Yvonne Brandon, Richmond School Superintendent.
After the speech, there was a question and answer period and all the students really wanted to know about were the president's daughters... Sasha and Malia.