‘Unpresidented’ visit
Bill Clinton makes surprise appearance at WNY P.S. 2
by Gennarose Pope
Reporter Staff Writer
Jan 15, 2012 | 2568 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bill Clinton made a surprise visit to West New York’s P.S. 2 Tuesday, Jan. 10, to praise the school system for its effort to transform its nutritional program. (Photo courtesy of John Fauta.)
Bill Clinton made a surprise visit to West New York’s P.S. 2 Tuesday, Jan. 10, to praise the school system for its effort to transform its nutritional program. (Photo courtesy of John Fauta.)
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Former Pres. Bill Clinton dropped in unexpectedly at West New York’s P.S. 2 Tuesday to speak about the importance of nutrition and health, and to praise the town for its recent efforts in transforming the schools system’s nutritional program.

School Superintendent John Fauta received a call from the Secret Service only hours before Clinton’s arrival at around 12:30 p.m. Clinton spent an hour touring the school and speaking with children and staff; after which he held a half-hour news conference in the library.

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Not all of the students knew who he was.

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Clinton visited the cafeteria while the children were having lunch, after NBC filmed them eating breakfast in the morning. He also visited the gym.

“He was very personable with kids and staff alike,” Fauta said. “He took photos with them and spoke with them.”

A lot of the older students knew who he was, Fauta said, but some did not. However, when they were told Clinton was once president, “they were stargazed.”

History of healthy change

The West New York school system is no stranger to nutritional achievement.

P.S. 2 received a Bronze National Recognition Award in 2009 and a Silver National Recognition Award in 2010 from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation – a program founded by the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation to reduce childhood obesity. They received the award in honor of their efforts to provide students with a fresher, more nutritional meal plan.

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“[Clinton] said he has a soft-spot for West New York.” –John Fauta

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In June 2010, Memorial High School received the first and only Gold National Recognition Award given by the alliance after receiving the bronze in 2008 and the silver in 2009.

Last October, the alliance awarded Sal Valenzia, food service director of the West New York School District, the distinction of Healthy Schools Program Champion.

“He’s got a little bit of a fondness for our food service director,” Superintendent of Schools John Fauta said about Clinton.

“He’s given us a lot of awards and he wanted to see us firsthand,” Fauta added. “[Clinton] said he has a soft-spot for West New York. It was really an honor.”

Footage of the visit and the conference will be aired on NBC’s Nightly News on Jan. 17 at 6:30 p.m.

Gennarose Pope may be reached at gpope@hudsonreporter.com

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