First Lady Melanie Trump visits Orchard Lake Middle School

First Lady Melania Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited Orchard Lake Middle School Monday morning to talk about bullying and inclusion. Photo courtesy Lori Higgins of the Detroit Free Press

First Lady Melania Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited Orchard Lake Middle School Monday morning to talk about bullying and inclusion. Photo courtesy Lori Higgins of the Detroit Free Press

Madelyn Chau, Christina Stevenson

The government decides to take its first active step towards ending bullying in a visit from the first lady. On Monday, October 23, Melania Trump traversed all the way to Orchard Lake Middle School in the West Bloomfield School District in order to speak out on her new initiative, “No One Eats Alone,” in which students supposedly should never have to endure a lunch period without a friend. Along with Mrs. Trump, the U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos also made an appearance at the middle school. This luncheon was the kickoff event of the “Week of Inclusion” in October, which is National Bullying Prevention Month.

News of Melania Trump’s visitation came off as a tremendous shock to citizens of the West Bloomfield School District. This is because school administrators were prohibited from notifying families of her visit until the night before the conference. Numerous security measures were enforced to ensure the safety of Betsy Devos and Melania Trump. Students were strongly encouraged to be respectful towards Melania Trump, as there have been certain tensions regarding the Trumps in this community. A further measure taken was the closure of Orchard Lake Road. The purpose of this was to minimize crowd gatherings at the middle school, although police were present to detain any potentially violent persons.

The reason for Melania Trump coming all the way to West Bloomfield is unknown. In other news articles originating outside of the district, West Bloomfield is described as a “Metro-Detroit area.” However, of all the communities situated near the Motor City, West Bloomfield historically ranks as one of the wealthiest. Detroit is notorious for its poverty rates and poorly funded public school system. Melania Trump could have chosen to help a poorer community of students, but instead chose to help the better-off.

As the West Bloomfield School District is wealthier compared to Detroit schools, it has been able to afford anti-bullying programs in the past, such as Kids In Charge. This program allowed guest speakers to come and educate students on drugs, peer pressure, and bullying. According to the American Journal for Public Health, children of poor families experience higher rates of bullying compared to wealthier children. It begs the question – if Melania didn’t come to West Bloomfield for its economic status, why did she come?

Some students think that it may have to do with the racial diversity of West Bloomfield’s students. Josh Poole, WBHS sophomore, said, “I believe that Melania coming to OLMS was a very polarizing thing. Many people questioned why she came to Michigan, specifically West Bloomfield. I’ve heard that she came here because we are the most racially diverse community in Michigan. I sort of believe that. She could have went anywhere to talk about anything, I feel like bullying may be the last of America’s problems right now.” Chaz Hoskinson, WBHS sophomore, had a more positive outlook on the issue. “I think it’s good to go to a diverse school which people bully based on race and talk about anti-bullying.”

It certainly does seem as if Melania Trump has chosen Orchard Lake Middle School for its diversity, because in each professional photo of her with the middle schoolers, she was posed mainly with children of color. It appears that she may be trying to shape the public image of herself more favorably in terms of racial issues, but some students still do not have a high opinion of her.

While some students may hold skeptical opinions, this surprise visit was a vital step towards improving relations between this government and local citizens. The first lady made direct contact with students in a valiant effort to improve their lives, taking the time to make interpersonal connections. If Mrs. Trump’s words on anti-bullying impacted OLMS children, small changes may begin to happen for the common good.