Mr. Obama, Come Try Some “Wooder” Ice

The press is all atwitter because Barack Obama ditched them to take the girls to a water park. Then they got petulant and wouldn’t join him for a shave ice at a local food stand in Hawaii. Obama should have more real life encounters, and I propose one complete with Philly water ice at Fitler Academics Plus School in Germantown, where kids are inspirational.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Mr. Obama is still in Hawaii. He escaped reporters in what they are jokingly referring to as Waikiki-gate, a swift move whereby the Barack Obama took Malia and Sasha to a water park without press interference. Then they stopped for “shave ice,” evidently some form of Hawaiian delicacy not unlike South Philadelphia water ice, pronounced “wooder ice” by the locals here. As noted by the Washington Post, Mr. Obama treated several kids who happened to be at the shave ice shop, and it got me thinking. The kids of Fitler Academics Plus School here in Philly have sent off letters of advice to the President, and He should come out here, maybe with Sasha and Malia, and listen to their fine words.

I don’t expect our Philadelphia kids to tell Mr. Obama all about Michael Nutter’s infrastructure projects. Michael probably has someone down in DC whispering in the appropriate ears already. But the kids at Fitler have taken Mr. Obama’s message of hope to heart and it needs some recognition by the President-elect. The eighth graders there have formed the Obama Hope Organization, a group of kids helping each other with tutoring and reading and, well, hope. Barack Obama’s election has been an inspiration for the students, and they’ve all written him a letter. Here are some excerpts, from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

“I hope that you have a great life and that you will be the greatest, because I was Barack Obama for Halloween and I wanted black people to kick it up a notch and win. Call me anytime,” wrote Tymeer Beal, who conveniently provided the president-elect with his phone number in case Obama wanted his advice on kicking it up a notch.

. . .

“I said, –I hope you can fix stuff, because people are poor,’ ” said Kyrell Harrison.

“I want Barack Obama to help the older people and the younger people,” Daisy Stone said.

“I said, –Will you please be a good president and we’re counting on you,’ ” said Jaden Rimes, a confident young man who says he knows exactly what it means to be the president: “It means taking care of people. And lowering prices.”

The real reason Obama should visit the school, and have them treat him to some Philadelphia Water Ice is that they have embodied the Obama theme of hope and service, with the older kids digging in and helping the younger ones. We don’t need an Obama visit to Philly to boost Michael Nutter’s plans. (Hey, if Michael gets the Eagles to pay up, then I’ll ask for an Obama visit just for him!) The notion of a visit by Barack Obama to this city school that is doing wonders, especially with it’s student-run Obama Hope Organization, is to reward the students for ispiring all of us. They also make me smile. Here’s the last little bit of the article, with some of the goals of the kids, and a bit of humor (from the Philadelphia Inquirer):

The Obama Hope Organization, chartered by a handful of seventh- and eighth-grade students, has big plans.

Eighth grader Sierra Graham ticked off the things she wants the group to accomplish, aligned with Obama’s focus on education and health care.

“We should try to influence the young children to be anything they want to be,” Graham said. (Think of the planned literacy campaign and a tutoring program for students who need help, she added.)

Her friend Michelle Harvey, who said the group wants to recruit more members, nodded.

“We hope to volunteer our time, to give back, to be mentors. We’ll donate to the less fortunate,” Harvey said.

But the talk isn’t all serious, Kyshon Jackson confessed. She’s spent a fair amount of time thinking about how the president is cute.

“At first, I was going to write him a love letter,” she said. “But I didn’t think Michelle would like it. She seems feisty.”

Every holiday season needs a little inspiration, and after eight years of Bush Christmases, with soldiers in harms way, with disasters bungled, with the envirnoment trashed and the economy now in shambles, we need to take our inspiration where we can get it. Seventh and eighth graders are a good source if you ask me.

Saturday, December 27th, 2008 by Steven Reynolds |

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