ABC News’ Karen Travers reports: First lady Michelle Obama got a jump start on celebrating Cinco de Mayo with a visit today to the Latin American Montessori Bilingual Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. “Feliz Cuatro de Mayo!” she said, noting that she was celebrating the holiday a day early, on May 4. Mrs. Obama started her remarks to about 200 students on a serious note, saying that it was important to keep the citizens of Mexico in their thoughts and prayers as they continue to deal with the H1N1 (swine) flu. “At a time that we’re celebrating Mexican culture and heritage, it’s so important for us to think about some of the challenges that the folks in Mexico are facing right now,” she said. “And we want to make sure that we’re sending our thoughts and our prayers out to people as they’re getting well, and the rest of the people around the country as they’re getting well, from folks who have gotten the flu and all that kind of stuff, right? So we want to send good thoughts to everyone, OK?” Mrs. Obama took in several song and dance performances by students from the Montessori school and its sister school, Next Step Public Charter School and clapped along with students during traditional Mexican numbers like “La Raspa.” “One of my favorite things that I get to do is go around and visit schools and to talk to all of you. So I am so happy to be here,” she said. “Even though it’s rainy and soggy outside, I was looking so forward to today, and meeting all of you, and seeing your school, and hearing you sing and dance.” The first lady, wearing a purple and white argyle cardigan and gray skirt, took questions from the students and asked them to make them easy ones. The students obliged — her first question was “What’s your grandmother’s name?” Mrs. Obama took six questions from the students, on issues like whether she has tried Mexican food (“Mexican food is my favorite food in the whole wide world,” she said) and what surprised her most about the White House (how much fun it is).
The first lady said today’s event was part of her effort to get to know hew new community. “That’s one of the reasons why at least once a week I get out of the White House and come and see you guys so I get to learn about your schools, learn about your neighborhoods, your communities, because I think it’s important for all of us to get to know our communities,” the first lady said. She said that she wants D.C. students to feel that they are part of the “business” of Washington and understand what happens in the nation’s capital. “It’s important for you to understand what Washington is all about, not just what’s going on in your schools and your communities, but what goes on in the capital, and that you feel like that space is your space, and that it’s your democracy, as much as it is anyone else’s,” she said. The first lady did a kids version of a rope line — stopping to hug some of the students on her way out and accepting flowers. — Karen Travers