— Continuing the first family's outreach to Chicago teens, President Barack Obama on Friday welcomed 14 students and five chaperons from Chicago's Hyde Park Academy High School to be among his guests at an informal luncheon in the State Dining Room to mark Father's Day.
Obama had met the students, who take part in the Becoming a Man — Sports Edition program, during a visit Feb. 15 to Hyde Park Academy, less than a mile from his Chicago home.
"It is good to see all of you here, so many young people, so many outstanding dads, a few moms chaperoning," Obama told several dozen guests Friday. "Obviously, this is a great way for us to celebrate Father's Day and just to remind ourselves, those of us who are fathers, how lucky we are."
He walked table to table greeting guests, posing for photos and holding a baby.
Among the guests was Frankie Griffin, 18, from Chicago's Englewood neighborhood, who said the trip was his first to Washington and the White House. "It was awesome experience to be in the presence of the president," remarked Griffin, who graduates Monday and wants to pursue a career in technology.
He works as a stock manager for Wal-Mart and said he was a recent victim of gun violence. Griffin said he was robbed at gunpoint and had his knee grazed by a bullet during a holdup a few weeks ago.
Griffin's chaperons included Marshaun Bacon, 36, from Hyde Park, who said the president's visit in February was a "mind-blowing experience." Bacon praised him for maintaining ties to the young men he met then, saying Friday: "For him to want to continue that relationship and that dialogue is really a testament to how big his heart is."
On the menu: burgers, fries, salad, cookies, apples and lemonade.
White House spokesman Kevin Lewis said the luncheon was a chance for the president to continue the "national conversation" he began during his first term about the vital roles that fathers have in families and communities.
After the luncheon, Obama invited the Chicagoans on a quick trip to the Oval Office. Afterward, the students were to take part in a round-table discussion on mentorship with administration staffers, Lewis said.
The trip for the Hyde Park Academy students was paid for by the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, according to a White House aide.
The clearinghouse — whose website is fatherhood.gov — is funded by the Department of Health and Human Service's Office of Family Assistance.
The Hyde Park Academy students arrived Thursday and depart Saturday, Bacon said.
Obama traveled to Hyde Park Academy in February to talk about gun violence and other issues, meeting privately that day with participants in the Becoming a Man — Sports Edition program, which mixes after-school sports with counseling, mentorship and violence-prevention activities.
First lady Michelle Obama has begun her own relationship with students from Chicago's Harper High School, visiting the school in April and hosting some Harper students at the White House on June 5, when they met both Obamas.