DC students get ‘bragging points’ after visit from first couple

Brookland Middle School principal Kerry Richardson, first lady Jill Biden, eighth-grader Elijah Poole and President Joe Biden. (Courtesy Brookland Middle School)

On Thursday, President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden took a short trip from the White House to visit a Northeast D.C. school. President Biden was at the school to make the case for newly announced federal vaccine guidelines, but before and after he spoke, he spent time with some of the students.

“The most amazing thing was the president and first lady talking to students and hearing firsthand how they felt,” said Brookland Middle School principal Kerry Richardson.

President Joe Biden talks to Brookland Middle School student Elijah Poole. (Courtesy Brookland Middle School)

While at the school, the first couple visited a science classroom and offered words of encouragement to the students.

“The president definitely has a sense of humor. He asked the students how many of them wanted to go to the moon and all their hands went up,” said Richardson.

It was a surprise for the students because they were only told that a “special guest” was coming to the school — not the president and first lady.

“It’s interesting to see them in person, not just on your screen all the time,” said 13-year-old Aidyn Higgins, an eighth-grader at the school. “Not everybody can say that they’ve met the president.”

Elijah Poole, 13, also an eighth-grader at Brookland, had the honor of introducing the president — a job he admits had him a bit nervous beforehand.

“What my mind was going through is like, ‘I need to get this speech right so I don’t embarrass myself in front of a lot of people,’” Poole told WTOP.

Poole said his mother was probably more excited about the special moment than he was, posting to Facebook about it after it happened. Poole said he got to shake both the president and first lady’s hands, too.

“I think this is going to stick with me for the rest of my life,” Poole said.

Seventh-grader Raniyah Johnson, 12, joked about her brief encounter with the president. “We had eye contact, so I’m basically his friend now,” Johnson said.

Laronjae Roy, 12, a seventh-grader, said she is looking forward to telling everyone about the presidential visit, which she said gives her “a lot of bragging points.”

Eighth-grader Jada Bowie, 13, said she is glad her school is getting recognized nationally because of the visit.

“To me it means a lot because they could have went to any other school but they chose Brookland to come here and speak,” Bowie said.

In a statement, Mayor Muriel Bowser thanked the president for stopping at the school.

“We thank President Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, and Secretary Cardona for visiting with our Brookland Middle School community and witnessing first-hand the excitement that only a class of joyful students can deliver,” Bowser said. “We continue to be grateful for the dedication and hard work of those in our school communities for their creativity, flexibility, and resilience over the past two years and, now, their support of a strong reopening of our schools.”

Students from Brookland Middle School in D.C. received a visit from President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden, who is a teacher herself. (Courtesy Brookland Middle School)
Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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