Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA

The Knight Crier

Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA

The Knight Crier

Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA

The Knight Crier

Are you even here to see the president?

Student journalist takes on Biden’s first 2024 election campaign address
Riley Roach
PRESS PASS-The Knight Crier press pass that allowed student journalism to be able to take place.

I, a North Penn High School student journalist, went to see the president. 

Sitting on the edge of my driver’s seat, I waited in the seemingly never-ending car line with my blue BIC pens tucked into my Lululemon bag, two college-ruled notebooks in the passenger seat, and my Knight Crier press pass wrapped around my neck. I was ready to see the man himself. The first obstacle that I had to navigate through to get to Joe Biden was the Secret Service agent I encountered who was letting people into the car line.

“Are you even here to see the president?” the agent questioned in a doubtful tone.

With shakiness in my voice, I replied with an affirmative head nod and a “Yes, I am here as press.” Even with my noticeable angst, the agent told me to pull forward and continue to wait in the press line to enter the president’s speech. After an hour’s wait just to get into the main parking lot, I had to face my next challenge: finding out where to enter the building. 

ACTIVISM-The first protesters that you encountered before the event. (Riley Roach)

As I walked up the long trail to the entrance of Montgomery County Community College, I was surprised to see the unexpectedly massive amount of protesters and activists that were outside of the building. Navigating through community members and protesters, I was determined to find a short line that was for the press only. I was getting in.

I approached a Secret Service agent and asked, “Is there a press line? I am a student journalist and I would like to see the president.” Doing this was nerve-wracking for me because I felt that because I was a student, I shouldn’t be allowed to push and shove past the line.

“There is a press line right up there to the left. Make sure to have your invitation email present when you get to the door,” the agent replied.

What invitation? Was I supposed to RSVP? Where is the door to the left? There are so many people here. Wow.

“Is there any way you can direct me to the door?” I asked the agent quickly so he wouldn’t walk away.

Forever, I will be appreciative of this officer because of his willingness to escort a student journalist to the front of the line. I felt like I was somehow cheating my way in, but I am a journalist. I deserve to get in. When I got to the door, I met a family that shaped my whole experience and I could not have gotten to where I did without them. The family of PA Bucks County Representative, Perry Warren. 

Warren’s wife and daughter met me in line before the event and “adopted me” for the day. My stress levels were still high but decreased because of the safety I felt from this family. They ended up being the reason I pushed myself in and got to meet some local politicians.

After I met the Warrens, I still had to get into the event. An event leader stepped outside the door and announced that only sixty press people were going to be allowed into the building. Community members were not allowed in at all. If I wouldn’t have talked to the agent about a press line, I would not have gotten in. 

Once the doors opened, the Warrens pushed me up to the front of the press line and we all ended up getting in and passed through the metal detectors. It was so relieving getting in, especially because I was scared of being turned away because of my lack of an invitation and lack of a post-high school press credential. 

VIEWS-Our perfect view of the president. (Warren Family)

We got to sit on the balcony of the auditorium and got a perfect view of the president and the first lady on stage. I was mesmerized by the amount of politicians I recognized and how small the room was. I was in. I got into an invite-only event as a student journalist.

The presidential campaign speech, the supposed highlight of the day, seemed to be the least memorable part of the whole experience for me. It seemed so unimportant compared to my reignited love for being a student journalist and the confidence that I had shown to walk into an event of this capacity. After the speech, I got to meet my state representative, Steve Malagari, and a PA state senator, John Fetterman. Along with meeting people I had only read about in the news, I also got interviewed for a story that is going to be written by a professional news site.

The entire experience was so meaningful and helped me through a time when I was losing my love for journalism. As a student journalist, it is easy to become discouraged because you are frequently limited in what you can write about. What I learned on this day is that you are not limited. You are not limited to your school, your community, or your “safety topics” you write about on a weekly basis for a grade.

If you walk with confidence, you can get to anywhere you want to be… especially if you are a student journalist.

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  • W

    Willa MaglandJan 20, 2024 at 3:01 pm

    This is incredible! I’m in awe at your bravery, I would have been so afraid. It’s really inspiring to me how us students can really get involved in our community, but it just makes sense. I’m glad you felt inspired again with journalism, as I really admire your reporting on here! Also super jealous you got to meet our Sen. Fetterman..