Spotlighted for the right reasons.

Author:Williamson, Dianne

Byline: Dianne Williamson

Mr. President, was it good for you, too?

To paraphrase Chris Matthews -- a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross, coincidentally -- Worcesterites felt a tingle down our collective leg Wednesday afternoon when Air Force One landed at our unassuming airport just in time for the President of the United States to address 301 graduates of a local public high school.

Not to get all verklempt, but man, what a moment.

Now, I understand that our city is home to many naysayers and no small population of cranks who scowled at the presidential visit for a host of reasons: The traffic. The cost. The closing of streets. The politics. The minor inconvenience. The fact that they would likely complain about the weather if the clouds opened up and rained down hundred-dollar bills.

But nothing quite compared to the remarkable images from the DCU that were transmitted across the nation: President Barack Obama seated on the stage, wedged between two graduating seniors, leaning over to offer lighthearted banter. Sheila Harrity, telegenic principal of Worcester Technical High School, flashing her brilliant smile at the commander in chief, who flashed his own right back. And the seniors themselves, flushed with excitement and pride on a day that likely exceeded their wildest expectations.

Outside the DCU, people lined the motorcade route, and Facebook erupted with pictures from Pleasant Street and Newton Square. Residents waved pro-Obama banners and held up umbrellas to ward off the rain.

Inside, more than 5,000 parents, relatives, friends and guests packed the arena. Cheers exploded when the president strode onto the stage and the national anthem was belted out of the park by junior Lois Dwira. It was just one of many spine-tinglers in an afternoon of memorable moments.

One of my favorites? Class president Reginald Sarpong, a native of Ghana, asking the crowd to "please join me in welcoming the pre-eminent leader of the United States of America,'' as the crowd went wild.

The president seemed to be enjoying himself. When he took the podium, he gave a warm shout-out to Harrity as a...

To continue reading