In addition to speaking at a South Side high school Friday, President
"These students are very honest, very open, very opinionated and passionate," said Ross, adding that Obama will "get a real dose of what it feels like, at least from their perspective, of what it feels like growing up in the city of Chicago right now as a teenager."
Obama, coming to Chicago as part of a three-state tour after his
"We have a lot of students who are not doing well and may need the president's remarks for motivation," Ross said.
The president will discuss proposals for "strengthening the economy for the middle class and those striving to get there," White House officials said.
He also is expected to touch on the subject of gun violence in the wake of the slaying of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old honor student, at a park about a mile from Obama's home in the
Hadiya's parents, Nathaniel Pendleton and Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, were the president's guests Tuesday at the State of the Union speech.
On Wednesday, Sen.
Kirk, who returned to work Jan. 3 nearly a year after he suffered a major stroke, said one of his top priorities this year is to pass the bill.
Hadiya Pendleton was killed Jan. 29. The next day, Kirk and Sen.
Outside of Hyde Park Academy on Wednesday, school officials geared up for the president's visit by making repairs to the building and sweeping the sidewalk.
The school — whose alums include aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart and jazz artist Herbie Hancock — focuses on college and career preparation Many of the students are from the Woodlawn and Englewood neighborhoods, Ross said, and have felt the effects of crime and unemployment.
As students spilled out of the school, many were excited about Friday's event, saying they hoped to shake the president's hand or ask him a question. Others were upset that more students were not invited, but said they hope the president's words resonate with the crowd.
"The city does have a really big problem," said Dujuan Williams, 17, a junior at the high school, who said he lost a friend to gun violence this year. "I hope the (president's) message will be, 'Stay in school, graduate and succeed.'"