Mooresville is the third stop for President Barack Obama’s “Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour,” which began in early May in Austin, Texas.
The trip marks the first time Obama has returned to the area since last fall’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
In his 2013 State of the Union address, Obama laid out his belief that the middle class is the engine of economic growth, saying we must invest in the things that create jobs capable of supporting middle class families, such as technology and education.
The Mooresville Graded School District has gained national attention for blending technology and education. The American Association of School Administrators named district leader Mark Edwards as 2013 National Superintendent of the Year.
“We’re incredibly excited about this, and honored and flattered,” Edwards said of Obama’s visit. “It’s a historic time for both the Mooresville Graded School District and the Mooresville community.”
According to Mooresville Middle Principal Carrie Tulbert, members of the Secret Service and White House Presidential Advance Team – the group that learns the lay of the land and makes preparations in anticipation of a president’s visit – have been on campus since May 31.
White House staffers told Tulbert that Obama typically visits 10 schools a year, and Mooresville Middle will be his fourth in 2013. They added Obama particularly enjoys speaking to students in small groups or one-on-one, so 16 teenagers will have the chance to show him the digital, collaborative projects they’ve worked on through the year as well as how they weave interactive white boards into coursework.
After visiting three classrooms, Obama – accompanied by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan – is expected to speak in the school’s gymnasium for 20 minutes, peppering comments about the school’s curriculum into a larger discussion about stimulating innovation in schools across the country.
Tulbert said 100 of her students, chosen for their outstanding character and contributions to the school, will sit behind him on stage.
“It’s surreal – we just think about how exciting it’s been for our students,” Tulbert said. “He could have picked any school in our nation, and he chose us.”
This marks the first time a sitting president has ever visited Mooresville, said Andy Poore, special collections director for the Mooresville Public Library.
Much mystery surrounded how Obama and Duncan would arrive in town.
While the Secret Service public affairs office was not able to disclose the President’s route into town for national security reasons, Mooresville’s Public Relations Officer Kim Sellers said Obama could arrive directly at the school via helicopter, but a motorcade was also a possibility.
Sellers added that Mooresville Middle students would be on lockdown June 6 from the opening bell at 7:20 a.m. until the end of the presidential visit.
“The public should be prepared for possible road closures in the area, but there might not be any,” Sgt. Mark Little of the N.C. Highway Patrol said.
Obama’s final destination – the Mooresville Graded School District – is home to seven schools and roughly 5,500 students.
Upholding its motto “every child, every day,” in 2007, the district began a digital conversion, handing out more than 4,500 MacBooks to each fourth- through 12th-grader for round-the-clock use, and spreading laptops to third graders for daytime use in 2010.
A slew of accolades, including the 2013 TEAM award from the Consortium for School Networking, has befallen MGSD since the conversion. Its 90 percent graduation rate, the third-highest in the state, is up from 77 percent in 2007.