Nine Panola College students were among the 2,000 people who attended “An Evening with President George W. Bush” at the Belcher Center at LeTourneau University on Tuesday, Dec. 3. The Panola College Foundation funded the activity.
Participating students included Abby Parrish, Student Government Association president; Hannah Sellers and Emilee Sellers, dual credit high school students from Marshall; Hailey Woodworth and Kenna Mosier, from the Panola Early College High School; Ainsley Ross, Nash Coultas, Kyle Smith and Cody Grindle, government students. Accompanying the students were Brian Naples, Jodee Naples and Jody Harris.
President Bush, the 43rd President of the United States, was the inaugural guest speaker for the newly formed East Texas Speakers Forum. The Forum’s goal is to bring three famous speakers to East Texas annually, with various colleges and universities hosting the events.
Brian Naples said President Bush spoke extensively about his personal experiences as President. He said his most memorable moment was throwing out the first pitch at the Yankees game after September 11.
“President Bush spoke a lot about how his view of the presidency has changed after leaving office. The biggest change in politics that has occurred since his presidency, he said, is the ‘angry’ political climate. People, he said, want to disagree without being disagreeable,” Naples said.
Naples added that the students were surprised about President Bush’s sense of humor. “President Bush told a lot of jokes, which caught them all off guard. All our students said his humor was the most unexpected thing of the night, and they all loved it,” he said.
Following his remarks, President Bush took questions from the audience in a Q&A session that last almost an hour and a half.