Niles Schools Superintendent: ‘We could not be more honored’

Published 12:51 pm Friday, April 30, 2004

By By JAN GRIFFEY / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Niles Community Schools Superintendent Doug Law provided an answer quickly when asked Monday if Niles High School would be willing to host a presidential visit to Niles.
President George W. Bush is expected to give a major policy speech on jobs and family values, as well as hold a panel discussion at Niles High School on Monday afternoon.
Law and other teachers and administrators at Niles schools have been operating on adrenaline since Law received a call from a member of President Bush's re-election committee advance team on Monday morning.
Members of the president's re-election committee, White House staff and members of the Secret Service have been in Niles since Tuesday morning, preparing the community -- and most specifically Niles High School's gymnasium -- for the event.
Law said consideration was given to cancelling school on Monday to allow for the event, "but we decided this is far too important for our students to miss all this."
Monday's visit
Monday's visit will mean a number of changes for Niles High School students and administrators and for people who live in the neighborhoods surrounding the high school.
The president is expected to be in the high school for about an hour, but Law said he could not say specifically when the president will arrive.
There will be no parking in any of the high school parking lots on Monday. All students, faculty and those attending the event will park at the Apple Festival site at the corner of 17th and Lake streets.
In addition, a number of roads surrounding the high school will be closed to traffic while the president is in the high school.
And, on Monday, no one will enter Niles High School without going through a security tent.
Also, the school day at the high school will be extended on Monday.
He said the high school choir and the high school's performance group, "Counterpoint" will perform for the crowd before the president arrives.
The band will not perform because "the Secret Service doesn't like the idea of band instruments," he said.
Work to secure the high school, as well as the work of school employees to spruce up the high school and make ready for the presidential visit, will continue through the weekend, Law said.
Law said his first meeting about the visit was Tuesday, when about six people from the president's re-election committee came in for a "meet and greet" situation with select school staff and administrators.
On Wednesday, a larger, more formal meeting was held between school and city officials and about 20 representatives of the president.
Also, Law and others were schooled by press advance event representatives as to what information they could talk about and what they could not.
Planning for the event is staggering in scope, he said.
Law said he isn't sure exactly why Niles High School was selected for the visit.
Major stop for the president
Law said Bush staffers have told him the president's visit to Niles will be "a major stop for the president. And, the event will include a panel discussion. I'm told the topic will be jobs and family values," Law said.
He said about 1,000 tickets are being given away to the event.
Law said the re-election committee has invited about 80 students to attend the event.
Law said 80 senior honor students have been chosen. "We thought that would be a nice reward for their effort," he said.
A big screen TV is being set up in the school's auxiliary gym for the remaining junior and senior students to view the event.
A direct line feed through the school's Channel One system will allow the remaining high school freshman and sophomore students to see the event live.
He said some teachers have secured tickets to the event "through their own channels. I have tickets for the high school administration and me and the school board."