They didn’t get the White House tour they had hoped for, but the group of Iowa students who are pushing the White House to reopen tours to the public made it to the White House gates Saturday morning.
The 6th graders from St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Waverly, Iowa posed for photos outside the White House while holding individual paper signs spelling out the phrase, “The White House is our house! Please let us visit!”
Onlookers cheered the kids in the efforts, with one may saying, “Way to go kids!”
“It’s kind of disappointing, but it’s still kind of fun to see the White House,” Mosai Newsom, one of the sixth grade students, said.
Seth Abkemeier, another 6th grader on the trip who has gone on a White House tour on a previous visit to Washington, D.C., said it’s important for people to have access to the history that can be seen on a White House tour.
“It shows our nation’s history within the White House, and it’s important we get to see this up close” Abkemeier said. “Like we’ve been saying for a whole week now – it’s our house.”
“I would really like it if you could open the White House, so we could let the tours in,” Naomi Carpenter, a sixth grade student at St. Paul’s Lutheran School, said when asked to send a message to the president.
The White House cancelled all public tours indefinitely due to the $85 billion in in across-the-board spending cuts earlier this month.
When the students learned of the cancellation, they started a social media campaign urging the White House to reconsider its decision.
President Obama told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos earlier this week that the administration is trying to find a way to reinstate the tours for school groups, but it did not happen before the students from Waverly, Iowa made it to Washington, D.C.
“The Secret Service and the White House are talking about what is possible. I would not anticipate that opening tours that soon would be possible,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said earlier this week, when asked about the students.
On Friday, the sixth grade students received a tour of the Capitol where they looked at the Mall from the Speaker’s balcony and stepped on the floors of the House and Senate chambers.
After their stop at the White House Saturday, the kids were planning to hit the Smithsonian museums to take in more of the nation’s history.
“You couldn’t ask for a better learning environment,” Lynn Brown, the students’ sixth grade teacher, said. “It would have been a benefit and a plus to visit the White House, however, I think the kids take away more than just what they’ll remember through pictures. The experience this has generated in their hearts and minds has been extraordinary.”
And while they didn’t get into the White House themselves, the kids hoped that others might benefit from their hard work.
“I guess it was OK if we didn’t get to go to the White House, as long as other people get to,” Newsom said.