Sonora adds class to Bush speech

May 01, 2002 12:00 am

By AMY LINDBLOM

Ten Sonora students were in the right place at the right time Tuesday — they landed the last tickets given out to see President George W. Bush speak in San Jose.

The president and Lance Carle's eighth-grade class from Mother Lode Adventist Junior Academy just happened to be at the Tech Museum of Innovation at the same time.

"My mom called and said Bush was going to be at the museum while we were," said Heidi Diestel, 14. "So when we got there and saw all the people in line for the speech, we decided to watch his motorcade arrive."

While the students were standing in line behind a police barricade, a woman came up to Carle and asked him if he needed some tickets for the speech. The woman counted out 14 tickets in her hand — exactly equal to the number of students and chaperones from the school.

Carle was not sure if the woman was with the Secret Service, part of Bush's entourage or with the Commonwealth Club, which hosted the appearance by Bush, but he didn't hesitate to say yes when offered the tickets.

"Everyone got frisked, searched and ushered quickly into the auditorium and they closed the doors after me," Carle said. "We were the only student group allowed into the auditorium.

"Everyone else was in business suits and looked very official."

Diestel said extra seats were set up for the student class in the back of the packed room. One student, Alex Robinson, 14, said they were so far away from Bush that he looked quite small, but Alex thought it was an experience of a lifetime to see a president speak in person and possibly be part of an historic event.

"It was really cool to be there and be part of the crowd doing the clapping, rather than just watching it on TV," Sarah Shield, 14, said this morning back in the confines of her classroom.

The students estimated the crowd at 2,000 people in the auditorium for the speech, with more waiting outside.

The class and one of the parent chaperones, Betty McMurry, were impressed with Bush's comment that no one has ever been born in America who wasn't significant.