Student gets seat at State of the Union

January 25, 2011 8:02:39 AM PST
President Barack Obama will deliver his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, and the political landscape has changed since his address last year.

The Republicans now control the House of Representatives and there will be a sober atmosphere Tuesday night, three weeks after the attempted assassination of a member of Congress.

Expectations are that Obama will devote most of the speech to the economy.

Meanwhile, a Philadelphia High School student will be the guest of the president in Washington, D.C.

Eighteen-year-old Brandon Ford was all smiles Monday as Philadelphia School District officials acknowledged that he has been invited to sit with First Lady Michelle Obama during State of the Union address.

"They cordially invited me and it was an honor that I get to meet the President," Ford told Action News.

Ford had a first chance to meet the President last September when he and his West Philadelphia "Hybrid X" team were invited to the White House to be recognized for their work in producing an electric car that could travel the equivalent of 65 mpg. It is part of Progressive's $10 million Automotive X Prize contest. The team of students competed against corporations, universities and other well-funded organizations from around the world. The team, poorly funded and with not the best of equipment, didn't win. But they made it to the finals. To the President, that in and of itself was noteworthy.

President Obama mentioned them in a speech: "What they had was a program that challenged them to solve problems and to work together, to learn to build and create and that's the kind of spirit and ingenuity that we have to foster."

In the audience were all of the members of the West Philadelphia High School Hybrix X team except for Ford. He wasn't allowed through White House Security because he forgot his ID card.

"I'm not really a person who usually carries ID 'cause I'm not really old yet," Ford chuckled Monday night.

"It's interesting to hear him say that he not 'old' yet and that's why he doesn't carry ID, but he did share with me when me and my husband had taken him out the other evening that he will never leave his ID again," said Claudia Averette, the Deputy Chief of Adminstration for the Philadelphia School District.

For Brandon Ford, that may be the case from here on out. As he prepares to head to Washington to sit with the First Lady during the State of the Union address, he also realizes one thing: Forgetting his ID back in September has turned out to be one of the best things he ever did.