President Barack Obama will speak at one of the biggest high schools in Middle Tennessee on Thursday to highlight education reform and talk jobs.
Two days after delivering the State of the Union address, the president will visit McGavock High School in Nashville, where his speech will highlight plans for boosting the economy and helping the unemployed.
In a speech last month, Obama mentioned the strides Metro schools are making, and he apparently chose McGavock for his visit since the school is nationally recognized for its career academies model.
Students there can choose careers in broadcasting, aviation and transportation and health sciences.
It was just four years ago when McGavock was on the verge of being taken over by the state.
"This is really a big deal for our school. It's a big deal for our teachers and students because it validates the work they've been doing for the past four years. It also validates all the work that has been going on at all of our high schools with the academies and the progress all of our schools are making," said McGavock Executive Principal Robbin Wall.
The president's visit comes after a 15-year-old McGavock student was shot and killed at a Hermitage apartment. The person charged with shooting Kevin Barbee was his friend and classmate, 17-year-old Kaemon Robinson.
There was concern from the White House that it would be inappropriate to visit on the heels of a tragedy.
The McGavock principal says the White House even asked the school if they should cancel the president's visit out of respect for Kevin Barbee.
McGavock Principal Robbin Wall says after careful consideration, the school decided not to cancel the presidential visit in light of the shooting, largely because it would be unfair to the rest of the student body.
"Knowing Kevin and the personality that he has, I don't think he would want things just to stop. We'll treat it with respect and the dignity like it should be, but in the same breath want to follow through with the commitments we have as well," Wall said.
The president is expected to speak on Barbee's death during his visit.
"He is aware of that, and it's a tragedy. A terrible tragedy. And the president will obviously speak about matters of education at the event, but I think you could expect he will have something to say about the tragedy at the top of his remarks," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney in a statement.
Channel 4 News spoke with White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest and asked if the shooting could become a springboard for the president to address gun control, which he barely mentioned in the State of the Union address Tuesday.
"I don't know what the president's speech will look like tomorrow, so it's hard for me to say. We have been in touch with school to make sure it's appropriate for the president to visit. Obviously, the thoughts and prayers of the president and first lady are with the family of this young man who was killed last night. This really is a tragedy that is all too common. Regardless of what the circumstances turn out to be, the end of a young life is tragic," Earnest said.
Channel 4 News will provide special coverage of the president's visit to Nashville on Thursday. Watch his speech at McGavock live on Channel 4 and WSMV.com.
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