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Students may -- or may not -- hear Obama's speech

Jamestown Public Schools, like other districts in the state, said individual classrooms and teachers will air President Barack Obama's speech today if they choose. The district did the same practice last year.

The president plans to address school children today in his second annual Back to School speech. Some feared last year's speech would push Democratic politics, but the president mostly advocated students push themselves to perform well and that the future of the country rests on the students and their studies.

"You can't let your failures define you, you have to let your failures teach you," the president said in his 2009 address.

Obama's speech will be broadcast at noon today from the Julia R. Mastermann Laboratory and Demonstration School in Philadelphia, but is available online so teachers can show the broadcast when their classes meet.

Superintendent Bob Toso said the district sent a memo to its classrooms, leaving the decision up to individual teachers. The memo also said parents can decide if they would rather not have their children watch.

Districts in Fargo, West Fargo and Grand Forks are also leaving the decision up to teachers, according to Forum Communications Co. reports.

Jamestown Middle School Principal Joe Hegland said teachers are treating the speech as they would any other news event. He said he wasn't sure if any teachers planned to air the broadcast, but expected some social studies teachers might since it would fit best with that curriculum.

"There's no all-school program or anything like that," he said.

The same is true at Jamestown High School, said Principal Bill Nold.

"If it fits into their curriculum, teachers may use it," he said.

To watch the speech, visit To see last year's speech, visit http://whitehouse. gov/back-to-school.

Sun reporter Katie Ryan-Anderson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by e-mail at