President Barack Obama is coming to Mesa’s Dobson High School on Wednesday morning.
An “extremely limited” number of tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis at 10 a.m. Monday at the main entrance of Dobson High, 1501 W. Guadalupe Road. There is no school on Monday, due to President's Day.
There will be a one-ticket limit per person.
Mike Hughes, president of the Mesa Unified School District board, was “very, very” excited to hear the news Sunday. He said “it’s huge” for the district.
“It’s a wonderful honor,” Hughes said. “It brings recognition to the high school. I think it says a lot for Mesa and for the district. It’s great for the community.”
Obama’s stop in the Valley will be part of his road trip to convince Americans his economic stimulus plan will get the job done. He is hitting four states in four days.
Obama aims to continue promoting his $790 billion plan to create jobs and pump up consumer activity through spending programs and tax relief.
Obama also is expected to talk about his administration’s separate plan for using the rest of the $700 billion financial rescue package that Congress approved last year.
Obama has said he plans to make the announcement himself of how he intends to help people in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure. That announcement could come during his travels, or wait until he is back at the White House.
OBAMA'S VALLEY PLANS
Obama is expected to fly into Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, according to White House Media Affairs.
On Wednesday, doors open to the ticketed public at 8:30 a.m. at Dobson High.
Obama is expected to speak about 10:15 a.m. to 11 a.m.
He is expected to leave Phoenix around 12:45 p.m.
It’s been a “swirl of activity” since Friday afternoon, when Matt Gehrman, principal of Dobson High School, heard from White House representatives his school was a possible site for Obama’s trip. During the quick meeting, he was told “not to get his hopes up.”
However, the principal received the good news his school was chosen with a 10 p.m. Friday phone call, Gehrman said. He called the district’s superintendent and the next thing he knew, plans were being set.
“I think once I picked my jaw up off the table, it’s just been surreal,” Gehrman said. “To think of all the places, we got selected. What an incredible honor for the high school and the community to be able to host the president. This is very, very exciting.”
Gehrman said he has no idea why Dobson was chosen. He had heard in news reports one possible criteria for Obama was areas hit hard by foreclosures.
There are more meetings planned Sunday night and Monday to “find out how to pull this off,” Gehrman said.
Obama will speak in the school’s gymnasium, which typically holds about 2,000 people. However, it’s not known how many Dobson students and members of the public will be allowed into the event, Gehrman said.
All the specifics will be figured out Monday, he said.
The news has already created a buzz of excitement with Dobson teachers, who have been calling Gehrman telling them how excited they are, he said.
“We’re doing our best to spruce up the place,” Gehrman said. “It’s completely unbelievable we get to be a part of President Obama coming here.”
Mesa schools superintendent Deb Duvall said besides the national recognition her district and the 27-year-old Dobson High will receive, it’s also a great opportunity for Mesa students.
“We think that our students will take an added interest in what might be occurring at the national level,” Duvall said Sunday. “This is an opportunity for students to be familiar with and interested in the happenings of their government. They read about it in books everyday. Here’s an opportunity to have the president of the United States making an address to all the citizens, and here he is right down the hall from their classroom. That has to provide some level of motivation for our students.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report