These Chicago Teens Were In School When Two Of The World’s Most Famous People Made A Sudden Visit

For most teenagers, high school represents one of the most important periods in their life. The students at Hyde Park Academy can certainly attest to that. As a small group of pupils gathered together in October 2017 to discuss the future, they received a huge surprise, however, when two very famous people dropped by for a visit.

Located in Chicago, Illinois, Hyde Park High School was first established back in 1863. Initially starting out in a room of another facility, the school moved into a new building some 50 years later. Since then, this building’s structure has been altered several times, but Hyde Park High School continues to call it home after more than a century.

During that time, the school has itself undergone some major changes. Indeed, back in 1976 Hyde Park became a Career Academy, as well as a magnet facility for students. With that in mind, the school changed its name to Hyde Park Academy two decades later. And now it helps pupils prepare for life outside of high school.

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In 2013 the school experienced one of its biggest moments, as Barack Obama dropped by for a visit. Still in office at that time, President Obama arrived at the institution to speak with those taking part in a program known as “Becoming a Man.” This program was set up for male students to work through any issues that could affect them down the line.

But some four years after the former president’s visit, two more famous faces arrived at Hyde Park Academy. And they were looking to surprise a group of 20 students present. Indeed, Michelle Obama and Prince Harry succeeded in that aim, sitting down with the teenagers to discuss some important topics.

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Prior to their arrival at the school, Prince Harry and the former first lady were in Chicago for a summit. October 2017 marked the Obama Foundation’s first-ever gathering, around three years after the organization was initially established. Michelle’s husband heads the foundation, which sets up programs to help people across the country.

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As part of the foundation’s intention to help people, plans were put in place for a major new project in Chicago. Indeed, the Obama Presidential Center was mooted to be built just across the street from Hyde Park Academy. The center would house a library, a museum and a public meeting space for those in the city.

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“The center will be a new landmark… and an economic engine for the city of Chicago,” read a statement on the foundation’s website. “It will draw hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, creating thousands of new jobs. [It will also give] new life to Frederick Law Olmsted’s vision of a cohesive, walkable, and iconic Jackson Park.”

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“[The center] will be a place for all seasons, with winding landscapes, a sledding hill, and quiet spaces to read or reflect,” the statement continued. “As with other museums in Jackson Park, the majority of the space will be free and open to the public.”

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On that note, the foundation then touched upon the importance of the facility to the people of Chicago and beyond. “Most meaningfully, by celebrating President and Mrs. Obama’s legacy, the center’s museum will remind young visitors – whether they’re from the South Side [of Chicago] or the Southern Hemisphere – that their potential is limitless,” the statement added.

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With that in mind, the subject of the Obama Presidential Center loomed over Michelle and Prince Harry’s visit to Hyde Park Academy. While there, they discussed the impact that the facility would have on the surrounding area, reiterating its importance.

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However, the two discussed much more with the group of students. Indeed, the chat took place over the course of an hour. And it was later described as “warm and wide-ranging.”

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A statement on Kensington Palace’s Instagram page from October 2017 elaborated. “[The conversation covered] the importance of young people staying inspired and hopeful, and the transformative power of students using their voices to change the world.”

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And following this meeting at the school, Michelle took to social media to share some kind words about the teenagers. “Thanks to my friend Prince Harry for joining me today to surprise these remarkable students,” she wrote on Instagram. “We were blown away by their passion, ambition and talent!”

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This wasn’t the first time that Prince Harry and the Obamas had worked together. After the couple’s state visit to the United Kingdom back in 2011 the British royal then traveled to the White House some two years later. During his time there, Prince Harry joined Michelle in paying respect to a group of military families.

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The duo clearly shared a passion for honoring the servicemen and women of their respective countries. Indeed, Michelle showed her support again alongside Prince Harry when it was announced that the 2016 Invictus Games would be held in Orlando, Florida.

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Created in 2014 by Prince Harry, the Invictus Games is an international sporting event for injured veterans. Following the first tournament in London, England, the second came two years later in Orlando. Michelle joined her royal friend at the opening ceremony in 2016. And the two kicked the games off in style.

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Along with his brother William, Prince Harry visited the Obamas on a number of other occasions during their time in power. With that in mind, the royals then extended them a special invitation to come to Kensington Palace in April 2016, allowing their relationship to continue to blossom.

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In September 2017 Barack Obama accompanied Prince Harry at that year’s Invictus Games, held in Toronto, Canada. The following month, the royal then journeyed to Chicago for the surprise at Hyde Park. All these visits show that the Royals and the Obamas have a particularly strong rapport.

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But as for the Obamas’ grand plans in Chicago, they were dealt an unfortunate blow in July 2018. Indeed, construction on the Presidential Center was delayed until 2019. Due to that change, it’s now unknown when the building will eventually open, after receiving an initial date in 2021.

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