Biden and the first lady drop by a DC middle school math class and lunch to welcome back students

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden shook hands with middle schoolers heading to lunch and dropped by an eighth grade math class Monday to welcome students back for the new school year.

The Bidens went to Eliot-Hine Middle School, located east of the U.S. Capitol, to mark the District of Columbia's first day of school for the 2023-24 year. Seventh graders coming down the stairs for their lunch into the cafeteria were giggling as the president and first lady greeted them. Inside Heather Thomas' eighth grade class, the students were bouncing out of their seats and yelling with glee as the two walked to the front of the room.

“I’m shaking hands with the president!" one student exclaimed.

Biden said he remembered how it felt to come back to school after a summer away.

“You all look so excited to be in math class,” he said to the students. “What's your hardest subject, by the way?”

The students all yelled: "Math!"

The Bidens were joined at the school by Mayor Muriel Bowser and the schools chancellor. The event kicks off several back-to-school activities for the first lady, who is traveling later in the week to the Midwest to celebrate teachers and to highlight the mental health needs of students.

Jill Biden is a longtime teacher. She's the first first lady to continue her career outside the White House. She teaches English and writing at Northern Virginia Community College, which is where she taught during the eight years her husband was President Barack Obama's vice president. She goes back to school on Tuesday, she told the class, and has been busy preparing lesson plans.

“What you probably don't know about your teachers is that no matter how long you've been teaching, the night before you can barely sleep because you're so excited," she said. “Because we love our students.”

The students squealed as Biden went around and shook their hands.

“I want to shake your hand!" one boy yelled.

The school was built in 1931 and was recently modernized with state-of-the-art facilities. It has about 300 students. According to its website, it is focused on rigorous academic and socio-emotional instruction, and it receives federal funding to help support low-income students.