CNN spotlights Fresh Meadows JHS 216

What does a person have to do to give the President of the United States a piece of their mind? They could go to junior high school in Queens.
Some of the eighth grade students at J.H.S. 216, the George J. Ryan School in Fresh Meadows have been following the presidential campaign for over 18 months, under the guidance of Social Studies teacher, Paul Vigoda.
“They took a great interest in the issues facing the new president,” Vigoda said. “We had them start writing letters to the president, like the ones that were on CNN,” he added.
The letters he referred to appear in a segment called “Dear Mr. President,” a regular feature on the CNN program “Campbell Brown: No Bias. No Bull,” which airs Mondays through Fridays at 8 p.m. One letter is highlighted each evening, according to CNN producer Samantha Hilstrom.
The school’s principal, Reginald Landeau, contacted CNN and the rest is soon to be, as they say, history.
“The kids were great,” Hilstrom said, adding that although she couldn’t confirm any schedule, “the first one of their interviews should be aired in a week or so.”
The letters ranged from a pointed question: “How will you tap into our natural resources and put them to use?” asked by Daniel Navas, to a supportive missive from Mariam Wanees.
She declared that [President Obama] inherited a damaged America and offered him the following advice, “Trust yourself because you are a man with a good head on your shoulders and a man of good character. I think your chances of meeting and even exceeding expectations will increase considerably if you follow your gut.”
Fantasia Chatman congratulated the president and expressed that his victory “Will truly motivate, not only young African-Americans, but anyone to speak their minds and stand up for what they believe in.”
Classmate Jariat Zaman did just that. Pointing to potential cuts to education funding, he asked, “What will you do for the educational problems that are occurring all over the country?”
“I felt like a proud parent watching my students exhibit such poise, control, and articulation as they posed their questions and comments,” Landeau said. “The opportunity to put Ryan on the map nationally will go down as a historic event,” he added.
Hilstrom confirmed that this was the first set of interviews in Queens and only the third in the city. “We started after the election, when the segment was ‘Dear Mr. President-elect,’ and we’re planning to continue,” she said.
Being some of the first students to be interviewed since Barack Obama became the 44th President, “the entire school community is elated,” according to Landeau.

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