Sunday, January 13, 2002

School aflutter in Bush's wake

Students catch breath in time to study for exams

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        HAMILTON — Finals are this week at Hamilton High School, but staff and students are still buzzing about President George W. Bush's historic visit.

        “It's hard to stay focused,” Principal Tracey Miller said Friday. “What's a normal day after the president of the free world visits your school? We're trying today so students can review for their finals. We're trudging on.”

        Many visible reminders of the president's Tuesday visit linger. The two large “God Bless America” and “Welcome Mr. President” student-painted banners will re main in the gymnasium.

        Officials are considering other commemorations that could include naming a school for the president.

        Gone is the desk that Mr. Bush used to sign into law his “No Child Left Behind” education bill. It now sits in the administrative offices, where staff — including Supt. Janet Baker — can sit and have their pictures taken.

        “I was so naive, I actually thought it would come back to my classroom when it was over,” said art teacher Sue Samoviski, who five months ago claimed the desk from a throw-away pile.

        Later this month, the Ohio Historical Society will pick up the desk for display in Columbus until White House officials decide where it will be displayed permanently. Meanwhile, Mrs. Samoviski's belongings sit in a pile where her desk once stood as she hunts for a new desk.

        Former Hamilton Councilman Rick Segal has asked the Hamilton Board of Education to name a future school after Mr. Bush.

        “All the buildings except Hamilton High are named after presidents,” said Mr. Segal, who now lives in Fairfield. “It would be a good way to leave a permanent mark to a historic visit. It would also be a nice, patriotic gesture expressing appreciation to the commander-in-chief for his visit here.”

        Board President Dr. Glenn Stitsinger said the board would consider Mr. Segal's request but isn't going to make a decision until criteria is established for naming new schools.

        "It's something worth considering, but we're not going to make any quick decisions,” Mr. Stitsinger said.

        Mr. Miller said his staff wants to put together a book chronicling the president's visit. Pictures that White House staff will send of him during a brief, private visit with Mr. Bush will be framed and put in a spot of honor at his home, along with a tie clip and cuff links he received from the president.

        “Everybody's putting together their own personal scrapbooks,” Mr. Miller said.

        Girls' basketball coach Jesse Weisbrod said she has yet to find a spot for the basketball President Bush signed for the team in appreciation for their move to the auxiliary gymnasium and the use of her office by the Secret Service.

        Three days after the pres ident's visit, 15-year-old Kristi Baillie's voice still jumped two octaves as she recounted getting Mr. Bush's autograph on her program. (It's still in her book bag until she finds “the perfect” frame.)

        “I'm still freaking out, I'm so happy,” Kristi said during lunch Friday. “I've buckled myself down to study, but I'm still shaking!”

        Students know memories of the presidential visit won't help them on Tuesday's finals.

        Senior Renee Hickman and juniors Beth Ante and Amy Rapp say they are ready to go back to normalcy and preparation for their exams.

        “It wasn't hard for me to get to studies,” Beth said. “Right now, I have to focus on chemistry.”


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