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Students watch Obama's speech

Approximately one week after the controversy over the announcement that McDuffie Schools would not broadcast live a speech by President Obama, local principals reported varied numbers of students watched the recorded version of his back-to-school speech.

"I can't tell you how many, but I can tell you it was quite a few," Thomson High School Principal Rudy Falana said in a telephone interview.

"A lot of the kids wondered what the big deal was about as far as not letting them see it live."

Letters were sent home to all parents on Friday, Sept. 4, containing a form for the parents to sign giving permission for their child to watch the speech at a scheduled time. "It probably worked out OK for us," Mr. Falana said.

"There were some who wanted to watch it, but they did not bring their letter back, so we did not let them in to watch it. But, that's just one of those things."

The high school held two viewings of the recorded speech in the auditorium.

Thomson Elementary Principal Anita Cummings said her school also showed the speech twice -- once in the morning and once in the evening.

Mrs. Cummings said approximately 125 students, or one-fourth of the enrollment, watched it.

At the junior high, Principal Steve Rhodes said approximately one-third of the students watch the speech, which was showed only once but made available to individual students anytime in the media center.

The response wasn't as big at the middle school, according to receptionist Kelly Bingnear.

Ms. Bingnear said a "rough estimate of about 85 students out of the 650" brought back their permission forms to watch the video.

A link to view the speech online is still available on the school system's website at

Web posted on Thursday, September 24, 2009

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