Junction students surprised, excited by presidential visit
Noah Parker’s first reaction to news that President Barack Obama will speak at his school today was, “That’s intense.”
The 14-year-old Grand Junction High School freshman heard about the president’s visit, which will take place at 5:30 p.m. in the school’s gymnasium, for the first time Tuesday while he was registering for school.
School District 51 staff and event personnel readied the school’s gym Tuesday afternoon for Obama’s visit while freshmen filled out paperwork and had their school ID card photos taken in the cafeteria on the other side of the high school.
After taking a second to absorb news of today’s event, Parker questioned why his 1,700-student school warranted a campaign stop.
“I’m wondering why he’s coming,” he said.
This will be Obama’s third visit to Grand Junction and his second as president. Then-candidate Obama visited the Cross Orchards Living History Farm in September 2008 and spoke at Central High School less than a year after his election in August 2009.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney also has visited Grand Junction, once in February and again in July this year.
Colorado is considered one of an estimated dozen key battleground states in this year’s presidential election.
Anna Wedekin, 17, a Grand Junction High School senior who helped students register Tuesday afternoon, said this visit has more heft than Obama’s first visit to the Grand Valley.
“It’s really exciting because he’s not just a candidate, the president is coming,” Wedekin said.
“It’s not every day a president comes; it’s kind of a huge deal,” said Wedekin’s sophomore classmate, 16-year-old Halley Harrison.
Not every student is pumped for a presidential visit, though.
Jay Bumgarner, a 15-year-old sophomore at Grand Junction High, said he’s personally glad Obama is visiting his school and he hopes it gets the community interested in the November election.
Some of his friends are interested in the event, too, while others are indifferent about the visit.
“Others don’t like Obama, and they don’t really want him here,” Bumgarner said.
Like Bumgarner, Grand Junction High ninth-grader Lazaria Gulbranson, 14, said she hopes the president’s visit makes the school and the community more interested in politics.
“This year might be a little different at the school now that he’s coming,” she said.
Fourteen-year-old Kaleb Hinkle, a freshman, said he doesn’t have tickets to the event today, but he’s excited anyway.
“Whatever he has to say, it’s pretty cool he’s coming,” he said.