Waverly sixth-graders speak up about automatic budget cuts - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waverly sixth-graders speak up about the suspension of White House tours


A group of sixth-graders from Waverly are in the midst of a giant civics lesson as they become part of the national conversation about the automatic budget cuts.

For some time, the sixth-graders from Saint Paul's Lutheran School in Waverly have been planning, saving and fundraising for their capstone trip to Washington, D.C.

The 16 students and their chaperones were going to tour the White House until the budget battle spurred a suspension of all White House tours.

The students posted a video on Facebook of the kids saying in unison "The White House is our house, please let us visit." They are asking their supporters to like Saint Paul's Lutheran School's page on Facebook.

The move got national attention and even came up during a press conference with the White House Secretary.

"You know, the fact is, the Secret Service, like other agencies of government, is effected by the sequester, and the Secret Service presented options that ranged from canceling tours to potential furloughs and cuts in overtime; and in order to allow the Secret Service to best fulfill its core mission, the White House made the decision that we would unfortunately have to temporarily suspend these tours," Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

The White House says these tours require 37 secret service officers to work 40 hour weeks and with an hourly wage of $50. That adds up to $74,000 a week.

Parent and chaperon Karen Thalacker says the Waverly sixth-graders are hoping to be part of the solution.

"The kids also understand that there are people suffering in our country and whether sixth graders from Saint Paul School get a tour of the White House is not the biggest issue facing the country; obviously, but I think they have high hopes that if the two parties can get together and make a change on this issue, then maybe they can make a change in the other issues as well," Thalacker said.

Thalacker says that even if the Saint Paul sixth-graders were offered a special, exclusive trip to the White House, they would not take it because it would not be fair to everyone else. She also stresses that they do not want to be "involved in a political battle".

"The kids are not Democrats and the kids are not Republicans. The kids are Americans and they want to visit the white house," Thalacker said. "The kids want to be part of the solution, and at Saint Paul's Lutheran School, we are preparing children for lives of leadership and service, and what better example and training are they getting… than this situation that they are faced with. It's the best civics lesson they could ever have."

Despite this change on the itinerary, the students will still go to Washington, D.C. mid-March.

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