Students talk to Barbara Bush

Published 10:43 pm Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Creekside Elementary School students videoconference with former first lady Barbara Bush on Tuesday.

Creekside Elementary School students videoconference with former first lady Barbara Bush on Tuesday.

Barbara Bush answered a couple of questions from Creekside Elementary School students during a videoconference Tuesday promoting literacy.

About 60,000 students from schools across the nation participated in the event, said Cheryl Hendricks, a Creekside media specialist.

The school was lucky enough to be allotted two student questions, she said, and the honor of asking went to fifth-graders Bellamy McPhail and Jevonn Blackwell.

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The former first lady appeared to be speaking at home, owing to an illness, while the event was hosted at George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Texas.

Bellamy took the microphone first, asking which first lady in history she would most like to talk to, and why?

Wearing her signature pearl necklace and earrings with a red jacket and with a blown-up photo of a fluffy white lapdog on the wall behind her, the 88-year-old literacy campaigner elected Eleanor Roosevelt.

Jevonn then asked, “What accomplishments as first lady are you most proud of?”

“I’m not proud of anything,” Bush replied. “But I’m happy; I believe thousands and thousands of Americans can read because of my foundation” — the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. She said she was happy her children are now taking on the foundation’s operation.

Creekside media specialist Kim Richardson said this was her third year of helping bring the videoconference to the school.

“It’s a historical moment,” she said of the experience for students. “Our children will walk away knowing that they have had a connection with one of our first ladies.”

Bellamy’s mom Haley McPhail said she spent probably an hour at home Monday practicing her question.

“We helped her practice and project her voice,” she said. “We know that she was very honored to be the one to ask the question.”

Bellamy elaborated that her practice session was with both her parents in turn, and then before a mirror. “I was very nervous,” she said.

Jevonn said he felt like he was asking the question “in front of the whole world.”

“It felt like it was an important thing, because you are talking to one of the famous people in history, and getting to talk to them was a great honor,” he added.

Jevonn and Bellamy both agreed Bush was the most famous person they’d ever spoken to.

The event also included readings from “Liberty,” an award-winning book on the Statue of Liberty, by several students plus Bush herself. Every student involved received a copy of the book.

Richardson says the memory will be a lasting one. “I have children that are still talking about this that were present two years ago,” she said.