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Chaska student meets with President Obama
Jun 13, 2011 | 22822 views | 3 3 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Chaska High School junior Esther Lee was one of 10 young Americans invited to the White House to meet with President Obama’s senior staff and Washington-based youth advocates last week to discuss issues of concern to youth.

President Obama (with first dog Bo) joined the meeting about halfway through, according to a press release from Minnesota Alliance with Youth.

 Lee attended as the representative of Minnesota Alliance With Youth, on whose board of directors she serves as youth co-chair.

The 10 young leaders from around the nation met on June 7 with Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Nancy-Ann DeParle, Senior Policy Advisor for Education Zakiya Smith, Director of Digital Strategy Macon Phillips and Associate Director of the Office of Public Engagement Kalpen Modi in the Roosevelt Room of the White House for a listening session on the topics that had been discussed by youth in roundtable sessions all over the country.

Lee and the other attendees briefed the president and his staff on their conversations and solutions addressing such issues as jobs for young people, youth entrepreneurship, workforce development, energy and the environment, global poverty, racial and ethnic profiling, human rights and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) policy, the release stated.

Lee, 17, spoke about issues relating to drop-out prevention and the achievement gap, topics that had been the focus of the Minnesota youth roundtable session. The local group had discussed ways of educating others about the growing achievement gap in Minnesota and ways youth can get connected to opportunities that will help them stay engaged with school. 

Lee said, “One thing I mentioned specifically was the involvement in the 26 Seconds campaign by Minnesota’s own High School of the Recording Arts, which provided testimonials and addressed young people through music, video and spoken-word poetry.” The 26 Seconds campaign is a national dropout prevention project of America’s Promise Alliance and State Farm with NBA All-Star LeBron James; the High School of the Recording Arts’ original song, “26 Seconds,” is featured on the website at

“The opportunity I had to represent the Minnesota Alliance With Youth at the roundtable in Washington was incredible! This experience exposed me to a whole new level. I also enjoyed listening to the talented youth advocates who are working hard on behalf of young Americans,” Lee stated.

Lee, an honor student from Chaska High School’s class of 2012, is a member of her high school’s student council and speech team, is involved with a local Community Education Advisory Council, and serves on the Minnesota Youth Council, an initiative of the Minnesota Alliance With Youth, in addition to serving as Youth Co-Chair of the Alliance’s board of directors. She hopes to become a teacher, the release stated.

Minnesota Alliance With Youth is the Minnesota affiliate of the America’s Promise Alliance and contributes resources to schools, communities and partner organizations across the state in the form of up to 200 AmeriCorps Promise Fellows who focus on data-driven, evidence-based strategies to address the dropout crisis and narrow the academic achievement gap. For more information visit




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Mollee Francisco
June 20, 2011
What an awesome experience for Esther. Congrats to her. (And kinda fun to see former actor Kal Penn at work in that video)

(Mollee Francisco is a staff writer for the Chaska Herald. She can be reached at
Mark Olson
June 20, 2011
A video of Obama's visit with a group of students -- including Esther Lee of Chaska, is now posted at the bottom of this article.

Much of the video is shot over Lee's shoulder, so you get a pretty good idea of what Lee saw at the meeting.
Mark Olson
June 13, 2011
To read more on the White House blog, visit
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