May 20th, 2014
06:00 PM ET
9 years ago

Michelle Obama hosts White House talent show

Washington (CNN) - Students participating in a White House talent show got a surprise visit Tuesday when President Barack Obama showed up at the end of their performance – and wondered why he wasn't part of the act.

"I've got talent, but I wasn't invited to participate,” Obama joked.

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First lady Michelle Obama hosted the event, which was officially dubbed the "Turnaround Arts Talent Show."

As she welcomed her husband, a boy, apparently trying to get the President’s attention, reached up and pulled Obama closer to him by the left ear.

The program showcased primary school students who got the chance to play various musical numbers and read some poetry for the first lady and a room full of celebrities and family members.

The students were joined by actors and mentors Sarah Jessica Parker, Kal Penn and Alfre Woodard, among others, who introduced and performed with the kids who come from troubled schools in places like Montana, New Orleans and Massachusetts.

Mrs. Obama says the turnaround program encourages schools to integrate arts and music programs into their curriculums and gets, "students in these schools engaged in their education like never before. And that's what it's about."

The first lady cited one school in Boston that used to be one of the lowest scoring schools in the state. She said the Orchard Gardens school had, "six principals in seven years” and the teacher turnover rate was close to 50%.

"They had a principal who believed in the arts. He replaced all the security guards with five arts teachers,” Mrs. Obama said.

The school has since gone from what is called a level four school, to a level one school since the new principal began integrating arts into the core curriculum. To cheers, she added, "Oh yes we can."

Mrs. Obama said the point of the program was to get kids engaged and excited about coming to school – whether it was to work on an arts project or learn lines for a play, or practice music and she said, "Once you got those kids in the seat – then you teach them math and science."

Mrs. Obama also announced that the pilot program has been so successful that organizers are quadrupling its size.

She also said despite the program's success, much more needs to be done, adding that six million students in the U.S. still don’t have access to arts or music programs in their schools.

Rachel Goslins with the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, which administers the program, said professional actors and artists team up with schools in different regions of the country to push for arts and music programs to be fully-funded and expanded. They visit the schools and work with the kids to encourage and mentor them.

Filed under: Michelle Obama • President Obama • White House
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. just asking

    "I've got talent, but I wasn't invited to participate,” Obama joked.

    yes, you got the liar of the year award for 2013. you have a real penchant for lying.

    May 20, 2014 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  2. S. B. Stein

    It is good that this is being done. The problem is that we need children to have mentors of all kinds and people watching over them all the time. When there is proper adult involvement, then children can learn better.

    May 20, 2014 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |

    When i grow up i want to be prez daddy ? No you dont ? Why ?

    May 20, 2014 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  4. Historical Notes

    "I've got talent, but I wasn't invited to participate,” Obama joked.

    "Yes, you got an Award in 2013" said the school children. "Shame on you." The children weren't joking.

    May 21, 2014 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  5. king

    i wonder what kind of criticism the right and rush Limbaugh will come with this time. they always seems to find something if what the president is doing is not 100 percent perfect. lets wait and see what they come up with.

    May 21, 2014 07:32 am at 7:32 am |