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Posted at 5:31 PM ET, 04/29/2010

D.C. school gets visit from first lady

By Washington Post editors

First lady Michelle Obama brandished a paintbrush Thursday to add a little color to a mural at an elementary school in Northwest Washington and demonstrate the value of community service.

Obama joined a group of congressional spouses at the Marie H. Reed Community Learning Center in the Adams Morgan neighborhood, where they painted murals of butterflies and flowers around a courtyard and helped plant a butterfly garden and a vegetable plot.

The event came a day after the Congressional Club's annual luncheon.

“It's so good that everybody has made a commitment to step out of our tea dresses and away from the crystal and to roll up our sleeves and be ready to paint and to get a little dirty,” said Obama, who arrived wearing canvas low-top sneakers and with her sleeves rolled up.

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The first lady joked that school officials were taking a risk by entrusting their walls to well-intentioned but “not necessarily artistic people.” Obama and the lawmakers' spouses worked with students from the Reed Center and young people from two after-school programs that were recently honored at the White House: the Sitar Art Center and Higher Achievement, an academic enrichment program for middle school students. The students had outlined and painted the backgrounds for the murals ahead of time.

Adams Morgan is largely an immigrant neighborhood, and English is a second language for many students at the Reed Center. The school offers a dual-language Spanish-English program.

“I'm really excited because this is my dream come true,” fourth-grader Farhana Alam said before the first lady's arrival. “I really wanted to see the president, but at least I could see his wife. My next dream is to go to the White House and shake hands with the president and make friendship with his daughters.” Obama used black, red and yellow paint to fill in one of the outlined butterflies. Underneath, she wrote a message: “Dream big dreams!”

-- Associated Press

By Washington Post editors  | April 29, 2010; 5:31 PM ET
Categories:  DC  | Tags:  Elementary school, Garden, Michelle Obama, Mural, Plant, Washington  
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When is the First Lady going to visit a Catholic school?

Posted by: RepealObamacareNow | April 29, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

I am a teacher at Marie H. Reed Community Learning Center and I had the privilege to be a part of this great project. It was such an amazing experience and I'm glad that First Lady Michelle Obama is really making a big push for community service projects like these. They definitely enhance the value of these children's education while also showing the importance of giving back to the community! Thank you!

Posted by: ndsalvadoreno | April 29, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

please, two words....sidwell friends

Posted by: SofaKingCool2009 | April 29, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

When is the First Lady going to visit a Catholic school?

Posted by: RepealObamacareNow


Admit it: if she visited a Catholic school, you'd criticize her for going. Your username strongly suggests you wouldn't be able to help yourself. And then someone would criticize her for visiting a Catholic school because of the sex-abuse scandal with the pope. It's inevitable.

It's unseemly to attack any First Lady, Republican or Democrat, for merely carrying out the ceremonial duties that we expect of them.

Posted by: yh132 | April 30, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse

The Monarch Sister Schools Program, Chesapeake Natives, and the Rotary District 7620 Environmental Committee were delighted participate in the design, preparation and planting of the garden at Marie Reed Learning Center for this special event with the First Lady, Michelle Obama.

The butterfly murals at Marie H. Reed Learning Center surround their new Monarch Biodiversity Garden. This native plant garden was designed by Dr. Christopher Puttock, Chief Botanist for the Natural Partners Monarch Sister Schools Program, Executive Director of Chesapeake Natives, Inc., and leader of the Rotary District 7620 Environmental Conservation Committee. These three organizations were integrally involved with the production of the native plants, delivery and preparation of this outdoor classroom.

Chesapeake Natives, Inc. ( is a Maryland-based non-profit organization that preserves, propagates and promotes plants that are native to the Chesapeake watershed. The Monarch Sister Schools Program ( is an initiative of the nonprofit Natural Partners to involve school children across North America in the protection and restoration of the habitat of the Monarch butterfly. The Program provides the support that schools need to plant and sustain a Monarch Biodiversity Garden in their schoolyard (habitat restoration), create an outdoor classroom (STEM education) and establish a relationship with a sister school in Mexico (cultural exchange). The Environmental Conservation Program of Maryland/DC Rotary District 7620 ( is a part of the Rotary Preserve Planet Earth Program that started in 1990.

The Marie Reed Learning Center recently joined the Monarch Sister Schools Program. Sidwell Friends joined the program in 2009. There are also Catholic Schools: St Francis of Assisi (Baltimore) and St Annes (Annapolis), along with almost two dozen other DC Metro and Maryland Elementary Schools.

Posted by: christopherputtock | May 2, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

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