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Weekly Reader Asks Students to Write President's Inaugural Address

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2004 – Weekly Reader magazine wants to know what its readers would say to the world on Jan. 20, the date President Bush takes the oath of office and gives his second inaugural address.

The school-based educational and news magazine posed that question to its 7 million or more readers for its latest essay contest, titled "My Inaugural Address."

Mia Toschi, Weekly Reader editor, said the magazine wants its readers to voice their opinion on what they would do if they were in the president's shoes and what would they do for the country.

Though she said the contest's aim is to get students to "read, write and do research -- that's the ultimate goal of Weekly Reader," she said she also is hopeful the essays generate opinions on what students, much like the president, feel are important issues affecting the country.

Judging by what she's read so far, Toschi said, concern for the Middle East is on most of the students' agendas.

"Some of the essays from the kids really talk about helping the children in Iraq and Afghanistan, so there is an awareness about the problems of the Middle East, even with the younger students," she said.

She pointed out that students also voiced concern for helping homeless children here in United States.

Toschi said the essay contest, which was announced last week, will wrap up the magazine's yearlong campaign to teach students about the election process.

She said the campaign began in January with students learning about state caucuses and primaries, and then on to the presidential debates -- the magazine sent its own student news correspondents to cover the event.

The magazine even held its own presidential vote among readers, correctly picking Bush as the next president. The magazine has picked the correct presidential winner every year since 1956.

She said the fact that Weekly Reader has picked correctly for so many years is somewhat of a phenomenon. "We're kind of like the experts," she said.

Meanwhile, Toschi said, the words voiced in the winning essays could possibly get the president's ear. She plans to send them to the White House.

"We're not sure if they will get read, but we will surely send them so that the president will have an idea of what students want" she said.

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