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West Philadelphia High Student Is Invited Dignitary For State Of The Union Address

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s the day before President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address and State of the Union and Brandon Ford is trying on his new suit for the trip to Washington.

He says it’s the first suit he has ever owned.

Not only is he going to watch the address, he and his mother are sitting in the First Lady’s viewing box for the Presidential speech.

He says, “I was overwhelmed,” when hearing the news about the event.

Back in September, Brandon and fellow classmates from West Philadelphia High School were invited to the White House to congratulate them for their role in the nation’s EVX project, an experimental electric car competition.

West Philly High was the only high school in the finals category.

But when they got to the White House gate, Brandon found he left his identification at home and was not allowed inside.

His mother Linda Jackson said, “He was just so disappointed, you could tell, which surprised me how disappointed he was.”

The White House staff said they would try to make something work, and last Thursday they came through, calling Brandon to invite him to attend the President’s State of the Union Address, and to come as a dignitary. He told his mom the wonderful news.

“I really didn’t pay it no mind until it truly sunk in, but I was truly shocked and very proud,” said Linda.

Brandon says this is truly an honor, but he’s also says he’s learned a valuable lesson, “to bring my ID everywhere I go now.”

Reported By Dave Huddleston, CBS 3

  • R. Margolin

    Yes, you are correct that he did earn a right to visit the White House. For that he is to be commended. However, he was irresponsible and forgot his id. Yes, it would be very nice if the White House recognized that fact that he earned this trip and it would be a shame for him not to be able to visit the White House. In doing so the White House may suggest to him some other dates that he could return with his family and visit the White House. There was no need to give him this great honor to attend the State of the Union Address to be recognized as a dignitary. It just seems that he is receiving this huge reward for doing something irresponsible. There were many children that get invite to the White House each year. All of those children don’t get this honor. What message is this sending our children?

    • Heather

      It is sending them the message that if they help to build a car that gets 100 miles-per-gallon and they do so when they are only a teenager… that we will be proud of them.

      That’s a good message.

      Forgetting one’s ID is not “irresponsible” enough to in ANY way negate Brandon’s accomplishment. Stop wringing your hands. No kid is going to see this and say, “Ooooh, I’m going to forget my ID ALL the time.” Kids have more important things on their minds. We should too.

  • swartc

    Dear Brandon,

    A very dear friend of mine once said, “As often as possible, caring adults should be shouting and hanging signs saying, ‘mistakes are welcome here!’

    Our lives are made up of moments and many of them are “Oops moments.” Personally, I have had many, and they all seem to come along with awesome opportunities.

    Kudos to the White House Staff. Kudos to all the caring adults in your life. Kudos to you, young man!

    Brandon, you possess many strengths – caring, love of learning, poise, forgiveness, enthusiasm, gratitude, and humility, to name a few. And keep showing us your smile, it’s amazing!


  • Heather

    Brad, R. Margolin, and possibly Angelo as well, I take satisfaction from the thought of how sad your little lives must be that those were your reactions to the news of a teenager having an enriching experience that he will remember forever. As an American and a West Philadelphia resident, I am as happy for this kid as I would be for my own kid. All adults should feel that way where children are concerned. And you forget, he didn’t JUST forget his ID and that’s why he got to go. He was invited on the initial trip for a REASON. I bet his teammates are happy for him. I know I am. Go, Brandon!

    • Mark

      I agree with one’s ever given you guys a second chance? Shown you a little mercy? Lighten up guys. The kid deserves this.

      • Heather

        Thank you, Mark. Not to mention the fact that Brandon’s accomplishment was to help build a 100 mpg CAR, for crying out loud. And his mistake was simply forgetting his ID. For which he had to wait outside while his teammates and friends met the President. I’m so glad he gets to have this experience to make up for that one.

  • Brad

    That is not fair to the other students that were there. Wow, he forgot his ID card. That gets you a free pass to see the president?? I forgot my ID card at the store yesterday, can I get my groceries for free, or go see the president too??

    • Heather

      Actually, Brad, the other students got to meet the President. Because they helped to build a car that gets 100 mpg and were the only high school team among the finalists in a contest that included university and corporate teams. Brandon also participated in that accomplishment. And then he made the simple mistake of forgetting his ID. Of course you can think what you will think, but I, for one, think that simple mistake is very very small compared with his accomplishment. It was unfortunate that Brandon had to wait outside while his friends and teammates met the President. I hope this makes up for it.

  • R. Margolin

    Great! Let’s reward this student for being irresponsible and not being prepared. Meanwhile all the other students who were prepared and had their id’s do not get to go?!? Following this logic, If I make a big trip to a special store, but forget my wallet, I should get everything for free. Everyone else would have to pay for theirs! Where is the logic?

    • Angelo

      lol i wonder why he got to go!

      • Mark

        Just what do you mean Angelo? Grow a pair and say what you think.

      • Heather

        I second Mark’s request. Do you simply “wonder,” Angelo, or do you have a theory? Let’s hear it.

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