St. Paul middle school students get White House credentials to cover President's rally
Oct. 12, 2019
ST PAUL, Minn. — Of all the reporters covering President Donald Trump's rally in Minneapolis Thursday night, it's a safe bet the youngest were four middle school students from St. Paul's Capitol Hill Gifted and Talented Magnet School.
The students, three in seventh grade and one in eighth, had White House press credentials to cover Thursday's rally.
"I think it was an amazing opportunity, because we are kids and not a lot of kids get the opportunity to be White House credentialed press," said 8th grader Margot Trout.
The student's teacher, Mark Westpfahl, applied for the credentials. This is the seventh time in six years he has asked for presidential event press credentials for his students - and got them.
"Look what happens when you [ask]," Westpfahl said.
Westpfahl first asked for credentials for President Obama's 2014 visit to St. Paul's Union Depot. Westpfahl says he reached out to the Chair of the Minnesota DFL to see if credentials for his students were possible. Then he got a call from the White House.
"They offered to credential myself and one other student and a couple days later that turned into three students instead of one," Westpfahl said.
Westpfahl got credentials for four groups of students under President Obama. The practice has continued under President Trump. Thursday was the third time Westpfahl has had students cover a Trump event.
"It becomes real. It's not just an event that they see on the news or something that they see in the history book," he said.
The students spent the evening interviewing rally goers, both supporters of the President and those protesting outside. They also interviewed Chair of the MN GOP, Jennifer Carnahan, and Trump supporter and MyPillow CEO, Mike Lindell.
"You're going up to them and you're asking them questions and you have to be able to think about what type of questions you should ask," said 7th grader Anastasia Wallace.
"I asked people how long they were there, how did they get their tickets, did they support Trump, how has Trump affected them," said 7th grader Trump Vang. "I was hoping to learn how they got here and what their story was."
"It's a lot different when it's actually from your own eyes," said 7th grader Wren Pexa.
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