Collyer’s students meet First Lady

Collyer's students Claudia Sanchez-Ral, Luke Rookwood and George Grammer-Taylor at the White House SUS-150216-171540001
Collyer's students Claudia Sanchez-Ral, Luke Rookwood and George Grammer-Taylor at the White House SUS-150216-171540001

This week Politics and Law students and teachers from Collyer’s were welcomed at the White House by Michelle Obama!

First Lady Michelle Obama and former president George W. Bush’s daughter, Jenna, surprised guests in the Old Family Dining Room, which is now open to the public for the first time in history.

The event was filmed and even shown on national television news!

Three students from the Collyer’s group, Luke Rookwood, George Grammer-Taylor and Claudia Sanchez-Ral, along with Head of Mercers’ House and Subject Leader for Law, Helen Mayer-Dean and Law teacher Sarah Hawen, shook hands and chatted with Michelle Obama and Jenna Bush, who kindly welcomed the first 150 visitors to the opening.

Michelle Obama told Law teacher Sarah Hawen: “It’s so nice to have you here. Surprise! What a good day to visit!”

Helen and Sarah later said: “The First Law Ladies of Collyer’s had the privilege of meeting America’s First Lady! It was an exciting and unexpected honour. This was a memory making moment!”

George Grammer-Taylor, who studies A-level Law and came to Collyer’s from The Weald School in Billingshurst, said: “We waited 40 minutes in one of the White House rooms as security closed the doors. We did not expect at all for Michelle Obama to be there, I didn’t know what to do, I felt very under dressed!

“The law teachers, myself and the two other law students will definitely remember this moment in Washington for years to come, thank-you Collyer’s for organising this trip!”

The Collyer’s students were hugely grateful to Senator John Boozman of Arkansas, Senator for the home state of Collyer’s Politics teacher, Nick Cowell, who made the visit to the White House possible.

Assistant Principal, Melanie Russell said: “Thank-you so much to Senator Boozman. The students had privileged access to all the rooms of state, which is an extremely rare honour, particularly for visitors from outside of the United States.

“The teachers and students lucky enough to meet First Lady Michelle Obama and George W. Bush’s daughter, Jenna, were absolutely thrilled. What an experience!”

A-level Law student Claudia Sanchez-Ral, who previously attended Millais School in Horsham, said: “This is going to stay with us forever, not only shaking Mrs Obama’s hand and seeing the refurbished dining room but also being on national TV across 50 states!”

Fellow Law student, Luke Rookwood, who came to Collyer’s from Tanbridge House School in Horsham, added: “I thought it was a privilege, she’s the most famous person I have met. It’s not every day you can say you’ve met Michelle Obama!”

During the trip, the Collyer’s group also visited the Supreme Court, the US Capitol, The Library of Congress and The Newseum, which houses exhibitions on how the media have reported major political and legal world events.

Other highlights of the visit were a tour of Washington, which included a lift ride to the top of the Washington monument and a visit to Ford’s Theatre.

Collyer’s principal, Sally Bromley said: “The trip is extremely beneficial to our students’ AS and A2 studies as it gives them a valuable insight into the American justice system and political landscape.

“We owe massive thanks to our very own Nick Cowell, for kindly getting in touch with Senator John Boozman of Arkansas to organise the visit to the White House. All at Collyer’s are thrilled that our students and teachers have been so warmly welcomed by First Lady Michelle Obama. It is incredible!”

The video of the event can be seen at

(Note: Collyer’s students and teachers feature approximately 9 minutes into the video)

Report and picture contributed by Collyer’s.