Secretary of Defense James Mattis made a surprise visit to his former middle school in his home state of Washington last Friday. It was the first time Mattis had visited Chief Joseph Middle School since he had attended in the 1960’s.
“Secretary Mattis toured the school and visited a few sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade classrooms. He talked about his work as the head of the U.S. Department of Defense and encouraged students to be dedicated to doing well in school so they could be successful later in life,” the Richland School District reported.
“Students asked the Secretary questions about his years at Chief Joseph and the military as well as about his current role serving in the Cabinet of President Donald Trump,” it added.
“Without an education, you don’t know where you’re starting, and if you don’t know where you’re starting, you don’t know where to go,” Mattis told the students.
The school’s students were very excited to see how someone from their part of the country is in charge of the world’s most powerful military.
“It's just really cool that someone in that high of authority came from just our town and I just think that's just super, in lack of another word, cool," eighth-grader Oliva Merz said.
“So when you were in Chief Joe, did you always wanted to be in the place that you are right now,” a student asked.
“No, Mattis replied. “No, I never had any idea...I never thought it would end up like this.”
U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, one of Chief Joseph Middle School's alumni, surprised students on Friday with his first visit to his former middle school since he attended. What a great opportunity for students to meet someone with such a remarkable role in our country. pic.twitter.com/L8HYVBaU3F— Richland School District (@RichlandSD400) November 16, 2018
“All of our students are capable of going on to remarkable lives and there’s no better way to drive the message home than to have them meet someone who attended their school and has done just that,” school principal Kevin Norris commented.