Hillary’s Principle Reason For Queens Visit: Politics?

The kids of Virgil Grisom Junior High School in South Ozone Park filed into the school like normal last Thursday morning. When the 2,000 students got settled at their desks, the public address system sounded for attention and the usual daily announcements from the principal came over the school speakers. But the principal’s voice was not the usual one of Principal Rhia Warren. "Good morning, boys and girls, this is Hillary Rodham Clinton and I will be your Principal For The Day," the familiar voice of the First Lady of the United States stated. The call was made right from the Principal’s desk on the first floor as a beaming Warren looked on. Then it was on to the third floor library for the first event of the day — a meeting with Mr. Fiores’ 8th grade Social Studies class. About 20 students sat in a semi-circle with Mrs. Clinton in the center.
Mrs. Clinton had personally requested a Queens school for her participation in the "Principal For A Day" program, where celebrities, business executives and public officials adopt a school for the day. The Queens Courier was permitted exclusive community newspaper access to the students’ session with the First Lady. After an official photo-op for a press pool of photographers, Mrs. Clinton requested that the press be asked to leave the school so that she could more freely interact with the students throughout the day without the glare of the media. Mrs. Clinton told The Queens Courier that she wanted Queens and this particular school because of "the amazing ethnic diversity of this student body. Maybe it’s because of its close vicinity to the [JFK] airport that this is so, but I thought it is a real microcosm of the world and America."
Warren said the visit was a big boom for the school. "The kids are flying, the parents are flying and so are the teachers," she said. When she began the meeting in the library, Mrs. Clinton asked each student their name and to tell where they came from. Most said they were from other nations with one student saying "Brooklyn." Clinton told the students that she wanted to "get a better idea of what is on your minds."
She got it.
Students talked about the recent massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado and voiced their concerns about gangs who they said were recruiting in the schools. They identified the gangs as The Lost Boys and The Bloods. The First Lady talked about how the Clinton administration has worked on such things as the Brady gun control bill and the assault weapons ban. Some of the discussion centered on the war in Kosovo and on life in the White House. There was no mention of Monica Lewinsky or the U.S. Senate.
However, political observers could not help but note that this was Mrs. Clinton third high profile appearance in Queens in the last few months. Queens is a heavily Democratic party-enrolled borough and she has also made other frequent visits to other parts of the City and State in recent weeks as she mulls over a possible race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
Her potential Republican rival for that seat, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, has also been increasingly traveling throughout the State and in the "Principal For A Day" program, he also presided over a school — P.S. 123 in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Over 1,000 people participated as principals, including Queens Borough President Claire Shulman, and Actor Billy Baldwin who presided over Francis Lewis High School in Fresh Meadows.