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East Lansing High preps for Whitmer speech

Gretchen Whitmer
Posted at 5:31 PM, Feb 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-04 06:07:30-05

LANSING, Mich. — The nation will be watching East Lansing High School on Tuesday night because Governor Gretchen Whitmer will deliver the Democratic response to President Donald Trump's State of the Union address.

Currently, production crews have control over the school's cafeteria, setting the stage for the event.

Work started early once Governor Whitmer was chosen to give the official Democratic response to the president's address.

The governor's two daughters are students at the school.

"I can't tell you a time East Lansing High School has hosted a national event like this."

East Lansing Superintendent Dori Leyko says the district had to work with the governor's staff over the weekend to figure out how to make it work.

"This event takes a lot of hands, a lot of minds," she said.

Leyko says the student union ended up being the best option to host the response.

She says it was a balancing act trying to keep students focused.

"We're trying to keep things as regular and consistent as we can for the kids."

Of course ... Leyko couldn't let the once in the lifetime event pass by without making it a learning opportunity for students, she says about 20 students will be in the audience Tuesday night.

"We are just really excited to allow them the opportunity to experience this."

Governor Whitmer says she's honored to discuss the Democratic party's vision of action on Tuesday night. She is being described as a rising star in the party.

Gov. Whitmer said she will focus on education and public schools in her response. Educators are hoping the response could shape the discussion of public education.

Paula Herbart is the president for the Michigan Education Association. She said the governor's decision to deliver her address at East Lansing High School shows Americans where she stands on public education.

"It shows the importance of her own life and how much the public at large trusts their public schools," Herbart said.

Gov. Whitmer said in a statement that Democrats across the country have a plan to improve education. Herbart is expecting President Trump to address that in his speech Tuesday night.

"With the president likely addressing school vouchers and school choice, having a public school reiterates the confidence everyone has about their public schools," Herbart said.

Former Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero said that the response is important for the state since Michigan is considered a must-win in presidential elections.

He believes that Whitmer's message will resonate with all Americans.

"It wouldn't surprise me if Governor Whitmer's message is not really combative, but is more about some of these universal values that bring us together as a people," Bernero told FOX 47.

Leyko said it is great having the school on the national stage.

"It allows us to showcase what public education is and what we are here in East Lansing," Leyko said.

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