Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Washington greeted by Windsor students

Walkerville Collegiate students Natalie Culmone, Jeremy Burke and Tamara Vujic are members of the school's arts club and were invited by a high school in Virginia.
Tamara Vujic, left, Natalie Culmone and Jeremy Burke are members of Walkerville Collegiate's arts club and were in Washington to meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday. (Greater Essex County District School Board)

Jeremy Burke was one of three Windsor high school students that greeted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a high-profile visit to Washington, D.C., on Thursday morning.

Burke was joined by fellow Walkerville Collegiate students Natalie Culmone and Tamara Vujic, all of whom are members of the school's arts club.

U.S. President Barack Obama joked about the students missing school as he and Trudeau made their way through the crowd that gathered just outside the White House.

Although Burke wanted to see both men, he was more interested in getting that close to Trudeau.

"They're both famous, and it's great that I got to see both of them, but I was very interested in what Trudeau was going to say," Burke told CBC's Afternoon Drive. "It was his first time at the White House, I was interested in what his message was going to be."

President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, stand for the playing of national anthems during an arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. (Andrew Harnik/The Associated Press)

The three Windsor students were in Washington because of work their school's arts club had been doing with a U.S. school.

They had been working on a play with Rockridge Secondary School from Ashburn, Virginia.

Rockridge had recently been named state champ in the Virginia Theatre Festival for its performance of Ernest in the Pale Moon, a difficult play that the director of Walkerville's arts program, John Nabben, had always wanted his students to perform.

He reached out to Rockridge for advice. Since the drama classes at both schools happened on the same day of the week and at the same time of day, students from the schools used Skype to communicate.

When the school in Virginia was invited to Trudeau's visit as a reward for winning the state championship, word of the joint class work reached the office of First Lady Michelle Obama. Officials then asked if a few Canadian kids would like come along.

When White House staff agreed, the Virginia school reached out to Walkerville to invite some Canadian students to the historic event. Only three could attend.

The students, along with principal David Garlick and Erin Kelly, the board's director of education, were all part of the crowd on the South Lawn of the White House before the meet-and-greet.

They are to arrive home later Thursday evening.

Culmone's dad, Floro Culmone, was extremely happy for his daughter.


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