President Obama acknowledges student's death during speech

President Obama acknowledges McGavock student's death during speech

Posted: Updated: Jan 30, 2014 11:06 PM CST
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

President Barack Obama acknowledged the death of a student during his address at McGavock High School in Nashville Thursday afternoon and met with the victim's family before he spoke.

Kevin Barbee, 15, was shot and killed by a 17-year-old classmate Tuesday.

After landing at Nashville airport, Obama traveled to the five short miles to McGavock where he first spoke with Barbee's family

He took the stage in the gymnasium several minutes later, around 4:50 p.m., after being introduced to the crowd by McGavock Student Body President Ronald Elliott, who is also the co-captain of the school's football team.

Obama said he and his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, are praying for the families involved in the tragic shooting.

"Michelle and I have been praying for all of you and the community and I know that all of us are sending prayers to those families," he said.

McGavock High School, which was selected as the site of Obama's speech before the shooting, was the chosen so the president could emphasize the success of its Academies of Nashville model, which creates partnerships with colleges and universities to bring real world experience into the classroom.

"I want us to take the lessons we have learned and are learning and what's working so more schools can do what you are doing," he said.

Also during his address, Obama recognized a former graduate who attended the high school and is now working on a film degree at Vol State.

"Sarah [Santiago's] parents came to America from Guatemala and she struggled her freshman year, I think she will admit it. In her own words, she was one of the bad kids and then she took a broadcasting class with a teacher named Barclay Randall," he said.

After Obama's speech, Santiago told Nashville's News 2 she was on "Cloud 999" following the unexpected recognition.  

President Obama also touched on expansion of Pre-K and said he will not wait for Congress to act.

Mr. Obama was in Nashville for just over two hours.

Following his speech, Obama was seen smiling for pictures before exiting the school.

The president boarded Air Force One around 5:45 p.m., with the plane leaving minutes later.

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