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Michelle Obama: Life's "greatest honor" was being first lady

Michelle Obama gestures as she gives her final speech as first lady at the 2017 School Counselor of the Year ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., January 6, 2017.
Michelle Obama gestures as she gives her final speech as first lady at the 2017 School Counselor of the Year ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., January 6, 2017. AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

WASHINGTON — Her voice breaking and eyes filling with tears, an unusually emotional Michelle Obama said Friday that being first lady "has been the greatest honor of my life" as she bid an early farewell to the White House.

An East Room ceremony honoring the 2017 school counselor of the year, and the work of all school counselors, marked her final event as first lady.

Before the tearful goodbye, there were words of encouragement for young people. Mrs. Obama, as she has done many times in eight years in the White House, urged kids to get the best education they can and then use it to "lead by example with hope, never fear."

"Don't be afraid," she said.

The first lady also praised the "glorious diversity" of people of all faiths, colors and creeds in America as "not a threat to who we are" but as what "makes us who we are." The comment seemed a rebuke of President-elect Donald Trump, who criticized Mexicans, Muslims and others throughout his presidential campaign.

"To the young people out there, do not ever let anyone make you feel like you don't matter or like you don't have a place in our American story, because you do," Mrs. Obama said. "And you have a right to be exactly who you are."

She urged them to get ready to add their voices to the national conversation and "stand up for our proud American values."

Mrs. Obama asked them to remember, when they encounter obstacles and feel like giving up, what she said she and President Barack Obama have talked about since first starting their journey to the White House nearly a decade ago, "and that is the power of hope."

She said hope has allowed the couple to "rise above the voices of doubt and division, of anger and fear, that we have faced in our own lives and in the life of this country."

Mrs. Obama ended the appearance by thanking the school counselors standing behind her, including Terri Tchorzynski, the 2017 honoree from the Calhoun Area Career Center in Battle Creek, Michigan, for their hard work and dedication. She has said school counselors often are the "deciding factor" in whether a student decides to attend college.

"Being your first lady has been the greatest honor of my life, and I hope I've made you proud," Mrs. Obama said.

The first lady has said she will continue, after she and her husband leave on January 20, to work on issues she championed as first lady. They include education, fighting childhood obesity and support for military families.

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1
Anchor 4: Word Meaning & Choice

Read the sentence from the article.

Her voice breaking and eyes filling with tears, an unusually emotional Michelle Obama said Friday that being first lady "has been the greatest honor of my life" as she bid an early farewell to the White House.

How does the phrase "unusually emotional" affect the sentence?

A

It suggests that Obama's final event as first lady held great significance for her.

B

It suggests that Obama was dangerously out of control when delivering her speech.

C

It conveys the disappointment Obama felt about her time in the White House.

D

It conveys the surprise Obama felt that so many school counselors were being honored.

2
Anchor 4: Word Meaning & Choice

Read the sentence from the article.

The comment seemed a rebuke of President-elect Donald Trump, who criticized Mexicans, Muslims and others throughout his presidential campaign.

What does the word "rebuke" convey in the sentence above?

A

the sense that Obama did not think Trump really believed his statements

B

the sense that Obama was demanding Trump take back his statements

C

a sense of Obama's disapproval of Trump's statements

D

a sense of Obama's agreement with Trump's statements

3
Anchor 6: Point of View/Purpose

Read the sentence from the article.

The first lady also praised the "glorious diversity" of people of all faiths, colors and creeds in America as "not a threat to who we are" but as what "makes us who we are."

How does this sentence contribute to the author's characterization of Mrs. Obama?

A

It highlights her view of how far the nation is from being a truly equal society for all of its citizens.

B

It demonstrates her belief that the new president will listen to all young people's perspectives.

C

It contrasts the strength of her belief in the value of diversity with political rhetoric that says the opposite.

D

It illustrates the seriousness of her view that all young people need education to succeed in America.

4
Anchor 6: Point of View/Purpose

Why does the author include the following quote from Michelle Obama?

"To the young people out there, do not ever let anyone make you feel like you don't matter or like you don't have a place in our American story, because you do," Mrs. Obama said. "And you have a right to be exactly who you are."

A

It develops a sense of Obama's desire to personally run for office to influence the future of the country.

B

It develops a sense of Obama's respect for all Americans and determination to encourage her audience.

C

It develops a sense of Obama's happiness and relief now that her duties as first lady are successfully complete.

D

It develops a sense of Obama's disappointment with the limits put on her accomplishments as first lady.

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