Skip to main content

Bringing song to Obama's inauguration, students savor fame

  • Story Highlights
  • Singing Atlanta schoolkids perform at inauguration festivities
  • "I have a sleepy energy," one 6th-grader says of the group's packed schedule
  • Ron Clark Academy singers gained fame for their "Vote However You Like" song
  • They have written another song, "Dear Obama," which offers advice to the president
  • Next Article in Politics »
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- There was no shortage of superstars in Washington this week, including the middle school students of Atlanta, Georgia's Ron Clark Academy.

Ron Clark Academy students singing their newest song, "Dear Obama," in Washington this week.

Ron Clark Academy students singing their newest song, "Dear Obama," in Washington this week.

"There are those Obama kids!"

"Those are the kids from TV!"

"Sing for us!"

The middle schoolers' ode to the political process, "You Can Vote However You Like," set to the tune of rapper T.I.'s "Whatever You Like," has garnered exhilarating fame nationwide.

Invited to perform at inauguration events, the boys and girls were stopped along every block in the capital by people who asked them to sing and pose for a picture.

"I have a sleepy energy," sixth-grader Kennedy Guest Pritchett said. "I feed off of the crowd and their cheers."

The students' new song, "Dear Obama," which they have performed this week, offers advice to the president on energy, taxes, financial regulation and al Qaeda and urges him to "control Ahmadinejad."

"Dear Obama hear us sing/We're ready for the change that you will bring/Gonna shine the light for the world to see/to spread peace hope and democracy. ... Fight for health care for the young so that coverage is available to everyone/It's time to find a renewable way to fuel our needs so we don't end up depending on Chavez and the Middle East."Video Watch the students sing "Dear Obama" »

The kids will perform Tuesday at the Africa and International Friends Inaugural Ball, sharing a stage with Usher and Patti LaBelle, one of many events in their packed schedule highlighted by a luncheon gala Monday to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

"I want to do good every song we perform. When the crowd cheers, I feel like we did a good job," said Willie Thornton, a seventh-grader. "I feel a lot of adrenaline afterwards."

The students have met the Kenyan Boys Choir, who told their American counterparts what kind of animals they might see when the Ron Clark students travel to Kenya on a school trip in June.

At another luncheon, the sixth- and seventh-graders were thrilled to catch a glimpse of actor Ed Norton, the man who played the Incredible Hulk. But he didn't compare to singer Beyonce, who closed Sunday's star-studded Lincoln Memorial concert and drew giggles and shouts.

The kids gained notoriety just before the election when they appeared on CNN, singing "You Can Vote However You Like." They became media favorites overnight, appearing on several networks and shows. Dressed neatly in their school uniform of khaki pants, light blue shirts and navy blue blazers, they discussed the Iraq war, the economy and taxes with the composure of adults.

Their teacher, Ron Clark, known for his innovation, has used pop music to teach his students. He once changed the words of Rihanna's infectious hit "Umbrella" to teach geography.

"You have to give students something they can identify with, something that catches their enthusiasm and spirit," he said. "I'm so proud of them all. They've taught me a lot."

Before founding his school in the rough neighborhood of South Atlanta, Clark taught in Harlem, where he penned "The Essential 55," a rule-book for educators that caught Oprah Winfrey's eye. She talked about it on her show, and it soon became a New York Times bestseller.

This past Christmas, Clark received another gift from the talk show host: $365,000. Winfrey donated $1,000 for each day of the year. Clark has said that the money will help provide scholarships for a year.


The teacher said he plans to incorporate Barack Obama's inauguration into lessons throughout the rest of the school year.

"Our school is about politics and world issues and helping the kids understand that they have an important role in all of that," he said.

CNN's John Murgatroyd and Ashley Fantz contributed to this report.

All About Barack ObamaU.S. Presidential Inauguration

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print