Hundreds of students in the auditorium of PS 36 in St. Albans cheered wildly, pumped their fists into the air and wiped tears from their eyes as they watched Barack Obama become the country’s first black president.
“Earlier today, when I heard the song ‘I’m Proud to be an American’ played, I started to cry because I was so happy Barack Obama is president, is the first black president that our country has had,” said fifth−grade student Tishara Badwah.
Though the students were no older than 12, they understood the gravity of the challenges the new president faces. Sitting underneath a sea of red, white and blue star balloons and sipping on “Obama punch,” a fruit drink, in the school auditorium, students said they were concerned about the foreclosure epidemic that has swept the nation, including much of southeast Queens, crime and affordable healthcare.
“I’m so happy because he’s making Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream come true,” said fifth−grade student Kiara Mann. “I want him to stop the violence. I want him to stop the killing among young people.”
Dozens of wishes for the new president were written on paper and hung on the school’s Obama tree, located at the front of the auditorium.
“My dream for President Obama is that he can try to improve our country’s economy because people are losing their homes to foreclosure and are dying in the cold,” one paper read.
The school held daylong festivities in honor of the inauguration. Students performed a play Tuesday morning, during which fifth−grade student Amir Oliver played Barack Obama and gave a speech to his peers.
“I talked about how he’s going to deal with health problems,” Oliver said. “He’s trying to help clean up our streets.”
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at agustafson
©2009 Community News Group
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