Talk about working up an appetite! Just hours before tonight’s state dinner, first ladies Michelle Obama and Margarita Zavala played with students at New Hampshire Elementary School in Silver Spring, Maryland. The school, which was awarded the USDA’s Healthier US School Challenge Silver Award in 2009, serves more than 400 Pre-K, Head Start, first and second grade students, many who come from Central America, South America, and other countries.
Basically, the ladies looked like they were having the time of their lives. The best part? They didn’t even change out of their formal attire from the morning’s welcome ceremony at the White House. Scroll down to see what each woman was wearing and to read the pool report and remarks. (AP photos)
Earlier in the day.
From the pool report:
FLOTUS and Mexican First Lady Margarita Zavala visited the New Hampshire Estates Elementary School in Silver Spring, Maryland. (Information on the school at bottom.)
Motorcade departed the White House at 10:27 a.m.; arrived at the school at 10:58 a.m.
In the first of the visit’s two parts, 12 second-grade students sat quietly in a small circle on the gymnasium floor, joined by their gym teacher who sat in a folding chair. Behind them a large blue banner, emblazoned with the American and Mexican flags, read: “Welcome, Mrs. Obama! Bienvenidos, Sra. Zavala!”
Possible News: Near the end of the gymnasium visit, FLOTUS took questions from the children, including one from a little girl about immigration. Your pooler couldn’t hear the exact question from where we stood (remarks should be forthcoming), but FLOTUS responded: “We have to work on that. We have to make sure that people can be here and get the right kind of papers; that’s exactly right. We have to work on that. We have to fix that.” She went on to stress the importance of Congress working together “to make sure that that happens.”
FLOTUS and Mrs. Zavala first entered the gymnasium at 11:11 a.m., escorted by two children. FLOTUS wore a raspberry elbow-length Calvin Klein dress, large glittering stone necklace, and tan flats. Mrs. Zavala wore a sleeveless turquoise dress with a thin black belt, and black flats (also a dark trench coat, which she later removed). The children greeted them with, “Good morning, Mrs. Obama and Senora Zavala!” FLOTUS, Mrs. Zavala and their two escorts joined the circle, the two First Ladies sitting in folding chairs provided, as the gym teacher explained the game they would play.
The group cleared the floor to start a game with a large plush rolling die. Each number corresponded with a different physical activity. On the first roll, the children, FLOTUS and Mrs. Zavala skipped around the gym, laughing. On the second roll, they all hopped on one foot. On the third and final round, they ran. Next, the group formed a circle around a large colorful parachute. The gym teacher instructed them to shake the parachute up and down to create “big waves,” later adding bouncing rubber balls to the middle.
After the parachute, the group sat in a smaller circle, with folding chairs for the adults. The gym teacher explained how their lungs and heart worked together to keep them alive, emphasizing the importance of exercise. FLOTUS explained that one of their reasons for visiting was the school’s efforts to promote exercise and eating healthfully, which is one of her passions as First Lady. She also took a few questions/comments from students, including the aforementioned immigration question. Another student commented that her mother stood in a long line to vote, to which FLOTUS responded: “That’s good. Sometimes you’ve got to work hard to vote. That’s part of what we call our democracy. You have to vote to make sure that the people who are in office making laws are representing what you think,” and encouraged them to vote when they’re old enough.
In English, Mrs. Zavala said that her children enjoy ballet, soccer and karate, and then switched to Spanish with the aid of an interpreter. She said exercise is important not only for the body, but it also helps the brain to concentrate. “Michelle and I want your generation of children to grow up happy and healthy. That also depends a lot on you, if you exercise every day and eat in more healthy way.” Mrs. Zavala then presented gifts to the students–little books about the butterflies of Michoacan, Mexico, home of several famous Monarch butterfly reserves.
For the second part of the visit, FLOTUS and Mrs. Zavala walked to the school cafeteria, where about 60 Head Start students and teachers gathered for lunch. Seated at three long lunch tables, the students ate “family style,” with food presented in large serving dishes that they passed around. On today’s menu: whole grain breaded chicken drumstick, seasoned potatoes, dinner roll, broccoli cuts with ranch dressing, assorted fresh fruit, and milk.
Before eating, the children sang a song with the lyrics:
“I watch my table manners
I sit up nice and straight
I say please and thank you and please put more on my plate
I do not talk while chewing
I do not play with food
We enjoy lunch together, because our manners are so good!”
FLOTUS and Mrs. Zavala sat at different tables, joining the students for lunch. FLOTUS encouraged her table of very talkative students to eat their broccoli, persuading one girl to try it despite her initial protests, and chatting with them about their families. Before they left, Mrs. Zavala presented more gifts of butterfly books, saying in Spanish, “The Monarch butterflies fly from Mexico to the United States. And many times that’s just like our lives; we travel through many countries…and make many friends.” She also congratulated the school on their efforts to be healthy.
With that, FLOTUS and Mrs. Zavala thanked the school for the visit. Motorcade departed at 12:05 p.m.; arrived back at the White House at 12:37 p.m.
About New Hampshire Estates Elementary School: Serves more than 400 Pre-K, Head Start, first and second grade students, many whom are of Central and South American descent. It is partnered with a school in Mexico, as part of the Monarch Butterfly Sister School Program, which connects children across North America to share projects on the habitat of the Monarch butterfly. In 2009 the school was awarded the USDA’s Healthier US School Challenge Silver Award for its physical education program that stresses cooperative games and healthy living, and its “family style” lunches for Head Start students to promote social skills.
11:31 A.M. EDT
MRS. OBAMA: Thank you all for sharing. I mean, one of the reasons we came to this school is because of what you all are doing here. I don’t know if you know, but –
STUDENT: Can you come to Field Day?
MRS. OBAMA: You know, I’ll see. I’ll see what day it is and see what else is going on, but it sounds like a lot of fun, and maybe I could wear jeans and sneakers and really get under the house.
But one of the things that I’m doing as First Lady is making sure that kids are healthy and eating right and getting the right kind of exercise, which is why what you’re doing here at your school — the fact that you’ve got such wonderful teachers who are focused on your health and how you eat. We’re going to go into the lunch room, and I don’t know if we’re going to meet with you guys, but some of your classmates. And we’re going to see how you eat family-style and how you’re learning about how your bodies work, and how exercise is so important for your heart and the system all works together, and how food blends into that, because all of that is going to help you all develop really good habits so that when you’re adults you’re eating healthy. And if you decide to have kids of your own, you can teach them these habits.
But it’s so — you are so blessed to be in a school like this that’s focusing and giving you this kind of information, and making it fun, right, because what you see is that exercise and play — that’s all exercise is, it’s a bunch of play. It’s just games. But you get your heart moving, and you’ve got to do that.
What they say is that kids should get 60 minutes of exercise every day. And you just got how many minutes were we –
MR. RYAN: About 25.
MRS. OBAMA: You just got 25 minutes already. So if you went home and ran around for another 25 minutes, or rode your bike, and you did that every day, you’d be doing exactly what you need to do as a kid. But you’re fortunate — kind of fitness — but you’re fortunate to be able to get that stuff here at this school.
What do you have to say, sweetie?
STUDENT: When I go somewhere with my mom, I always bring an apple to eat.
MRS. OBAMA: That’s right. See, that’s a good example of healthy snacks, right, because you don’t have to have a bag of chips. You don’t have to have — what?
STUDENT: Junk food.
MRS. OBAMA: Or junk food, right. You can have nuts or raisins, an apple, right?
MRS. OBAMA: Banana, that’s right.
CHILD: Even I ride my bike –
MRS. OBAMA: That’s great. That’s all good stuff.
STUDENT: (Inaudible) — every weekend — (inaudible) — when I go to my grandma’s house, we — they play the Wii –
MRS. OBAMA: The Wii Fit? Yep, Malia and Sasha have that, too.
STUDENT: — go out and ride our bikes.
MRS. OBAMA: That’s it. That’s exactly what –
STUDENT: That’s why I wanted — (inaudible.)
MRS. OBAMA: That’s great. That’s exactly what you should be doing.
STUDENT: Does your daughters do exercise?
MRS. OBAMA: They do. They do it at school like you do, and they do it at home, because you know what –
STUDENT: Do they ride their bikes?
MRS. OBAMA: They do. Yeah, they ride their bikes, they do.
STUDENT: Do you do exercise?
MRS. OBAMA: I do. I exercise every single day, unless I’m really –
STUDENT: Barack Obama?
MRS. OBAMA: He exercises every morning, every single morning.
STUDENT: I know what his favorite sport is.
MRS. OBAMA: What’s his favorite sport?
MRS. OBAMA: Basketball, oh yeah. And if he can play that, he’d play that every day.
STUDENT: Mrs. Obama, I have a question.
MRS. OBAMA: What’s your question?
STUDENT: I have a question. My mom said — my mom said that — I think that she says that Barack Obama is taking everybody away that doesn’t have papers.
MRS. OBAMA: Yeah, well, that’s something that we have to work on, right, to make sure that people can be here with the right kind of papers, right? That’s exactly right.
STUDENT: But my mom doesn’t have … (crosstalk).
MRS. OBAMA: Yeah, well, we have to work on that. We have to fix that, and that everybody has got to work together in Congress to make sure that that happens. That’s right.
MRS. OBAMA: Yes, sweetie.
STUDENT: My mom went to where you all vote. It was so cold. She was standing and she was sleepy.
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, but she stayed there and voted, right? That’s good. Sometimes you’ve got to work hard to vote, you know? That’s part of what we call our democracy, right, that you have to vote to make sure that the people who are in office making laws are representing what you think. And sometimes it’s not easy to vote. Sometimes you have to stand in lines. And that means when you get older, you’re going to vote every time, right, even if it means standing in line in the cold, right? That’s a good thing.
All right, sweetie.
MRS. ZAVALA: I can’t hear you.
MRS. OBAMA: Speak up.
STUDENT: I hope you teach your daughters about fitness and health.
MRS. OBAMA: We do, we do. At our house, we talk about fitness a lot. One plays soccer, one plays basketball. Both of them take tennis. They go to the gym on a regular basis. They ride their bikes. Being active is part — because the thing about being active is that it helps you with this muscle, too. That’s the most important thing about exercise. It’s like you wouldn’t think — you’d think that exercise is just about muscles in your arms and legs, but the most important muscle that exercise works is your brain muscle, this thing in your head, you know, and that’s why we know it’s important for kids to eat healthy and get a lot of exercise, because you all learn better, right, because when you come out here for 25 minutes and you run around, then you’re ready to go back to school and in your classrooms and do what?
MRS. OBAMA: No, when you go back to the –
MRS. OBAMA: Listen and learn, that’s right.
But now I’m going to turn it over to Mrs. Zavala who I know might want to say a few words just to you all, as well.
MRS. ZAVALA: Thank you. Thank you very much. The President Felipe CalderÃ³n is the President of Mexico. And we have three kids. Maria is 13 years old and she likes ballet.
MRS. OBAMA: Ballet.
STUDENT: I like ballet.
MRS. ZAVALA: And Luis Felipe is the second one, and he loves soccer. It’s a wonderful –
MRS. OBAMA: He wants to — how old is Felipe?
MRS. ZAVALA: Felipe is 11.
STUDENT: How old is Maria? And Maria, 13. And Juan Pablo –
MRS. OBAMA: She has a daughter.
MRS. ZAVALA: — he’s seven, and he likes karate.
STUDENT: I like karate! (Laughter.)
MRS. ZAVALA: I want to speak in Spanish. I know somebody can understand me. She is going to translate for me and for you.
(As translated.) In Mexico we’re also very preoccupied, the adults, and also that children throughout the world will exercise and be healthy so they can learn better, because as Mrs. Michelle Obama says, exercise is important for the body and for the brain. It’s important to learn mathematics, history, but also to do exercise so you can learn better. Michelle and I want your entire generation, our children — we want them to grow up happy and healthy.
But that also depends a lot on you — that you exercise every day and you eat in a more healthy way and you know what foods are healthy and what foods aren’t. And if you prefer the healthy food, it will be better for the world for you to grow healthy and happy, and it’ll be good for the world.
Thank you very much.