Wednesday afternoon President Obama addressed students across the country in his 3rd annual back to school speech.
His message encouraged students to discover their passions, work hard, take risks, and develop their skills.
The video and transcript of his speech are below.
Back to School Speech
Back to School Speech Transcript
And in addition, I also want to acknowledge your outstanding principal, who has been here for 20 years -- first as a teacher, now as an outstanding principal -- Anita Berger. Please give her a big round of applause. (Applause.) I want to acknowledge, as well, Mayor Gray is here -- the mayor of Washington, D.C. is here. Please give him a big round of applause. (Applause.) And I also want to thank somebody who is going to go down in history as one of the finest Secretaries of Education that we’ve ever had -- Arne Duncan is here. (Applause.)
Now, it is great to be here at Benjamin Banneker High School, one of the best high schools not only in Washington, D.C., but one of the best high schools in the country. (Applause.) But we’ve also got students tuning in from all across America. And so I want to welcome you all to the new school year, although I know that many of you already have been in school for a while. I know that here at Banneker, you’ve been back at school for a few weeks now. So everything is starting to settle in, just like for all your peers all across the country. The fall sports season is underway. Musicals and marching band routines are starting to shape up, I believe. And your first big tests and projects are probably just around the corner.
I know that you’ve also got a great deal going on outside of school. Your circle of friends might be changing a little bit. Issues that used to stay confined to hallways or locker rooms are now finding their way onto Facebook and Twitter. (Laughter.) Some of your families might also be feeling the strain of the economy. As many of you know, we’re going through one of the toughest economic times that we’ve gone through in our lifetime -- in my lifetime. Your lifetime hasn’t been that long. And so, as a consequence, you might have to pick up an after-school job to help out your family, or maybe you’re babysitting for a younger sibling because mom or dad is working an extra shift.
So all of you have a lot on your plates. You guys are growing up faster and interacting with a wider world in a way that old folks like me, frankly, just didn’t have to. So today, I don’t want to be just another adult who stands up and lectures you like you’re just kids -- because you’re not just kids. You’re this country’s future. You’re young leaders. And whether we fall behind or race ahead as a nation is going to depend in large part on you. So I want to talk to you a little bit about meeting that responsibility.