It is 66°F, blue skies with only a hint of a breeze right now. Perfect. This in contrast to the gray and winds this morning -- or the heavy rains, winds and tornado watches 'n hail on Saturday night. We got rain, but Kalamazoo to Battle Creek got pummeled and a bit flooded. Lots of damage.
Why the concern about Kalamazoo? Because of Monday.
For The First Time...
... a sitting U.S. President is going to give a high school commencement address. Huh. I would've assumed that this has happened before -- certainly in the era before College became as big a game as it is today -- or even a President going back home. But, assuming my information is correct, apparently not.
Kalamazoo Central High School managed to win a national competition with a student produced video connected with the President's Race to the Top program. The Prize? They get President Barrack Obama as their commencement speaker! In order to fit the President's schedule, Kalamazoo Central agreed to move their commencement to Monday 7 June 2010 at 7pm. Then Western Michigan University offered them the use of their Field House, which is a much bigger space. In what I think is a classy move, in addition to the tickets issued to each graduate for their family -- seven? -- with the added space they also were able to give one ticket to every graduate of the other two Kalamazoo high schools. There were no "public" tickets given. This is, at its heart, a high school graduation. One with tons of national attention and press. (grin) But it has to be a thrill for the students -- my Greensboro (NC) Grimsley Senior High band was honored to play Ruffles and Flourishes and Hail to the Chief for a sitting President, so I know.
I'm Not Going Out On Monday
I'd thought that maybe the WMU College of Aviation would get to have a big thrill and be able to welcome Air Force One on their home turf at the Battle Creek airport. Something like the March 1998 event where a British Airways Concorde flew into Battle Creek bearing the first class of BA cadets for the WMU Aviation program.
But no, the President's plane is to fly into Grand Rapids. And I thought I saw footage on the news of the arrival of HMX-1 with the Marine helicopters needed for the transport to/from Kalamazoo. So I'll stay away from the southeast corner of G.R., as well as US-131 in case the weather requires them to go overland.
Of course we knew that Air Force One could land at Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids MI (GRR), since Special Air Mission 29000 came here in January 2007 bearing the remains of President Ford home. (Actually there have been other times when Air Force One was here with President Bush.)
On WMU's campus, they announced:
As you know, Kalamazoo Central is holding its commencement ceremony in University Arena Monday, June 7, with President Obama as the principal speaker. This is the first time a seated U.S. President has spoken at a high school graduation, and we are proud to have this historic event take place at Western Michigan University.
K-Central students and guests will begin arriving on our campus at 3:30 p.m. Monday. To help alleviate traffic congestion around the West Campus, all employees not engaged in specific, scheduled duties will be dismissed at 3 p.m. Monday. Regular employees will not be required to use leave time for this early dismissal.
No activities have been canceled. Staff and faculty with scheduled responsibilities for orientation and other activities are expected to meet those specifically scheduled responsibilities.
No classes are canceled, except the few in the Student Recreation Center, as previously announced. Faculty members and graduate assistants with classes and other scheduled duties are expected to meet those scheduled responsibilities.
All other faculty and staff are asked to leave campus at 3 p.m. Monday, and those on the West Campus are encouraged to leave via Howard Street and avoid Oliver Street and the area around University Arena.
Yeah, I don't have to be on campus Monday. But there'll be live coverage 7-9pm on the local CBS station Channel 3.