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President Obama visits Decatur Pre-K school today

President Barack Obama comes to Georgia today, visiting an early learning facility and speaking in Decatur to highlight his proposal for improving early childhood education.

But even late Wednesday, reporters were barred from the College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center ahead of the presidential visit.

“They just told us we’re not to talk to the press,” a school employee told WSB’s Pete Combs.

Why all the secrecy?

“Were you guys surprised at all about this,” Combs asked Courtney Burnett, the legislative liaison at Decatur Schools, referring to the White House announcement that Mr. Obama would be visiting the College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center.

“It was very surprising,” she admitted. In fact, she said, the timing presented a rather unique challenge.

“Our school system is on winter break right now,” Burnett explained.

So teachers and administrators have been scrambling to get parents to bring their 4-year-olds back to school so the president will not have to tour empty classrooms.

“It was quite a good response,” Burnett said when asked how parents reacted. “It’s about 75-percent per classroom.”

This may make College Heights the only school where students ever volunteered to attend class while on vacation.

As College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center was sprucing for the president’s visit, so were its neighbors.

“I wish I could shake his hand,” laughed Geneva Odister from the front step of her home directly across the street from the school. Wanting her house to look its best for the presidential visit, she hired Frank Wilkes to clean up her yard.

“When she said President Obama was coming over here, I said, ‘Obama! Yeah! I’ll come and do it!’” Wilkes exclaimed.

Neighbor Alice Browner said she has big plans.

“We got folks who are supposed to bring coffee cake and everything!” she said. She even plans hang a banner up that says, “Happy Valentine’s Day Mr. President!”

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