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President Has High Praise For McGavock High -- Sky Arnold

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DONELSON, Tenn.--McGavock High School senior Ronald Elliott couldn't have been more nervous as he introduced the President of the United States Thursday.

 "I was nauseous," said Elliott.

President Obama made a stop at the Donelson school to talk about his education goals but he actually started off referencing a local tragedy.

Tuesday night McGavock student Kevin Barbee was killed in a shooting.

 "I wanted you to know Michelle and I have been praying for all of you in the community," said President Obama.

After that acknowledgment, the President turned his attention to McGavock's turnaround.

Four years ago the school was close to state take-over.

It's career academies program is credited with turning things around.

That program matches students with specific occupation related subjects.

"I want to encourage more high schools to do what you're doing," said Obama.  "Young people are gonna do better when they're excited about learning and they're gonna be more excited if they see a connection between what they're doing in the classroom and how it is applied."

For McGavock Principal Robbin Wall the visit and speech is a sign of just how far his students have come in a short amount of time.

"Four years of hard work is what happened.  This didn't happen overnight," said Wall.

Elliott agrees.

He says the President's visit validates the work students like him have done.

"It shows the improvements we're making the changes we're doing it shows we're doing a great job," said Elliott.