First Lady's focus on education interests local woman
Michelle Obama focused on education as she spoke at The Congressional Club's First Lady Luncheon on Thursday in Washington, D.C. For Sylvia Ridgeway of Huntington, who was honored to attend at the invitation of Melinda Rahall, that was certainly a topic of interest.
Founded in 1908, the Congressional Club is a bipartisan organization made up of wives of members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and the First Lady Luncheon is the group's premiere event. Ridgeway said she sat at a table with women from as far away as Egypt, Germany and Lebanon listening to the First Lady speak about ways to foster a steadfast dedication to learning in young people. She's planning to launch a new "Reach Higher" program with higher education as a focus.
Ridgeway, a retired Huntington High teacher and head of the local and state NAACP, said she started thinking Thursday about how some of Mrs. Obama's suggestions could be put into action here.
"She said she had taken the trip to China and that the kids over there are really steadfast in their goals to be educated," Ridgeway said. "We have made gains in education in America and we have a long way to go, and a high school diploma is not enough these days because competition is so strong. Students have to go beyond high school to compete in a global society."
Congress can't do it all. Educators can't do it all. Even parents can't do it all, Michelle Obama told the crowd of women at the luncheon.
"We all have to do our part, and responsibility has to be put on the kids' shoulders as well -- young people have to be able to do their part," Ridgeway said. "It starts with pre-K and you work up in getting them prepared."
She said Michelle Obama talked about a town in Texas that has a large celebration focused on post-secondary education.
"Groups within the community can do this, too. It should be ongoing," Ridgeway said.
Ridgeway said she knows plenty of retired teachers who could put their heads together and organize a program celebrating higher education.
The luncheon was a wonderful event, Ridgeway said, adding that the theme was "America the Beautiful." She said she was fortunate to receive some lovely gifts, including The Congressional Club's cookbook, filled with recipes from the members.
"Michelle's chili recipe is right inside the cover," Ridgeway said.
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