Rolling with the president

Rolling with the president

When the 250 Samuel Tucker elementary school students found out they were winners in a school-wide lottery, they didn’t know just what they had won.

As they crisscrossed the South Lawn of the White House on Monday for the 2010 Easter Egg Roll some even meeting President Barack Obama they were right in the thick of a pretty cool prize.

“It’s amazing, we didn’t even know how we got picked,” said third-grader Kay Massaquoi a day later, gathered with a handful of her schoolmates. “We were all surprised that we got to see the president and we thought that it wasn’t going to happen like kids can’t go there, only grown-ups.

“My favorite part was when I got to shake Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s hands because I never see them in real life and it was an experience like, ‘Oh lord … the President of the United States, the most famous of all … I got to touch his hand!'”

The Tucker students were treated to a presidential carnival on the South Lawn, which, with thousands of children and their families buzzing from activity to activity, more closely resembled a carnival ground than the austere home of the nation’s commander-in-chief.

“It was great because we could finally see how the White House was and it was very big,” said fourth-grade student Tijea Cook.

Third-grader Lamont Williams also got to shake the President’s hand.

“I liked it for the shows and I liked the football and basketball and I saw Justin Bieber and Obama,” Williams said, adding that he’d never met a president before.

The Alexandria students were just some of the 30,000 people from around the country expected to stop by the First Family’s back yard for the festivities. As far as the hosts were concerned, they just wanted everyone to have a good time.

President Obama kept his welcome short and sweet, making way for First Lady Michelle Obama to greet the visitors.

“Today we have transformed the South Lawn into a playground,” the First Lady said. “We’ve got tons of people who are here just to have fun with you today!”

And Tucker fifth-grader Aanu Jibadu loved it.

“I really liked it because there was a lot of things to do,” she said. “There was basketball and yoga and the Egg Roll and the egg hunt. And there were performances by different people and famous people.”

The guest list included the teen pop star Bieber, author J.K. Rowling, actress Reese Witherspoon, Olympic speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno and the cast of Glee.

Tucker received 250 tickets to the annual event from the U.S. Department of Education for its consistently high achievement, diverse student body and its health and wellness programs, a school spokesperson said.

While some of their classmates were stuck in school, those who went all seemed to have at least one thing they loved if not more.

“I liked the egg hunt because I got to hunt for eggs and after I got a prize,” first-grader Jonghwa Kim said. “We don’t know because we haven’t opened it yet.”

Prizes, a day off and a trip to the White House? Not a bad Monday.