Obama Girls Attend First Day at Sidwell Friends

What will the school day look like for Sasha and Malia in their new town?

ByCLAIRE SHIPMAN via via logo
January 05, 2009, 11:20 AM

Jan. 5, 2009 — -- Though President-elect Barack Obama doesn't start his new duties for a few weeks, his daughters plunged into their new lives today.

With their move to the nation's capital, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, met new teachers and made new friends on their first day of classes at the prestigious private Sidwell Friends school.

Malia will be a fifth-grader at the middle school campus, a 15-minute drive from the White House. The middle school is an entirely "green" building complete with organic lunches, which is one of the many things that appealed to Malia and her family, aides say.

Second-grader Sasha will have a 25-minute trip to the lower school campus in Bethesda, Md., where the emphasis is on Quaker values.

The Obama family hope the school will provide as much privacy as possible. They want to avoid the sort of media frenzy that followed Amy Carter on her first day of school.

"Amy Carter had a really terrible time in the beginning because she went to a public school and the public schools were not really prepared at the time to deal with the child of a president," said Sally Quinn, a Washington Post reporter who has covered the White House.

The Obama girls will always have Secret Service protection nearby, sometimes even in the classroom; the agents know from experience how to blend in and give children the space they need.

From all accounts, Chelsea Clinton, who also went to Sidwell Friends, had a surprisingly normal existence.

"What I saw with Chelsea Clinton was a development of such amazing friendships that she forged that are very strong to this day. When she was the first daughter attending school in Washington her friends were very protective of her," said Lisa Caputo, the former press secretary to Hillary Clinton.

Obama aides say that the girls were especially drawn to Sidwell because they have ready-made friends there. Vice President-elect Joe Biden's grandchildren go to school there and the Obama girls bonded with them on the campaign trail.

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