Obama makes surprise visit to a Chicago 8th grade graduation ceremony. Pool report

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After Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) held an event about credit cards at the Illinois Institute of Technology on Wednesday, he made a surprise visit to the 8th grade graduation ceremonies at the Young Women’s

Leadership Charter School of Chicago. Click for the pool report from the Chicago Tribune’s John McCormick.

TIME: 12:30pm CT

EVENT: Obama Makes a Surprise Visit to 8th Grade Graduation (Chicago,


POOL REPORT from Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago (June 11,


After his credit card and predatory lending round-table discussion, Sen.

Obama stopped across the hall and entered McCormick Auditorium at the

Illinois Institute of Technology, where an 8th grade graduation ceremony

was underway.

The room erupted in cheers and screams as he entered to give an

impromptu, four-minute speech to graduates of the Young Women’s

Leadership Charter School of Chicago.

After several dozen people rushed the stage to snap photos, Obama got

down to the business of trying to inspire.

He reminded the roughly 50 graduates (there were several hundred

relatives and friends as well) that they better hit the books because

they will be competing against “people in China and India and all across

the world.”

Below is the bulk of his talk to the young women:

“Don’t just settle for the mediocre because all of you have

extraordinary talent, all of you are going to be leaders in the future,

but only if you put out the effort. I’m proud that you graduated from

eighth grade, but it’s just eighth grade. After you’re done celebrating,

I want every young woman to be thinking about this summer how you going

to start hitting the books early? How are you going to start getting a

leg up on high school? What books are you going to read, instead of

watching TV? What kinds of new knowledge can you gain, because I want

what you to be doing every single minute of every single day is thinking

about how can I make myself the best possible young woman that I can be?

I want you to dream big dreams. Don’t just settle for small dreams,

because I know if you dream big dreams, there’s nothing you can’t

accomplish. I’m proud of you. God bless you.”

As he left the stage, Obama shook a few hands and the graduation

ceremony returned to its earlier activities.

Catherine Garth, who lives in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, was

there to see the graduation of her granddaughter, Shanara Garth.

“It was fantastic and a very pleasant surprise,” she said of Obama’s

visit. “I think he’s the greatest thing since candy.”

— John McCormick, Chicago Tribune

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