Help Put the Nation Back on Top, Obama Tells Students

In his third annual “Back-to-School” speech, President Barack Obama on Wednesday challenged students to start making an immediate difference in their communities and to set high education goals. The speech, delivered from Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, D.C., was broadcast live across the nation via whitehouse.gov.

Obama told students that he understood that their lives these days are a lot more hectic and demanding than when he grew up.  He acknowledged that children are taking more responsibility for themselves and their families now more than ever, but still challenged students to make an immediate difference in the country.

“With all of the challenges that our country faces today, we don’t just need you for the future – we need you now,” Obama said. “America needs your passion, your ideas, and your energy right at this moment.”

The President then expressed to students that graduating high school was not enough. In the near future, sixty percent of the jobs, he pointed out, will require a college degree, and the nation’s global competitiveness depends on a well-educated workforce.

“It means better jobs, more fulfilling lives, and greater opportunities for your kids.  So I don’t want anyone listening today to think that once you’re done with high school, you’re done learning.  Or that college isn’t for you.  You have to start expecting big things for yourself right now,” said Obama.

In the speech, Obama also applauded teachers for their dedication and hard work.

“Teachers are the men and women who might be working harder than anybody.  Whether you go to a big school or a small one, whether you attend a public, private, or charter school – your teachers are giving up their weekends and waking up at dawn. They’re cramming their days full of classes and extra-curriculars. Then they’re going home, eating some dinner, and staying up past midnight to grade your papers.”

Obama concluded his address by stating America’s future lies upon what students do now to set the country up for success. He instructed students to work hard now and make the most of the year ahead.

“Soon enough, you’ll be the ones leading our businesses and our government; you’ll be the ones charting the course of our unwritten history. All of that starts this year. Right now. So I want you all to make the most of this year ahead of you. Your country is depending on you. So set your sights high. Have a great school year. And let’s get to work.”