Students at McKinley Tech High School in Washington, D.C., were shocked when former President Barack Obama stopped by for a surprise visit.
"You don't mind me crashing, right?" the former leader said as he walked into the classroom, according to KTLA. Obama had come to the to the school with Atwen Wilson, the chancellor for D.C. public schools, in order to talk to students about "their life goals, pursuing higher education, and giving back to their communities," said the former president's spokesman, Kevin Lewis.
During the visit to empower "the next generation of leaders" at the school, Obama spoke to the students about encouraging young people.
"One of the things that I did throughout my presidency was I'd meet with groups of young people everywhere I went, whether it was here in the United States or when I was traveling overseas, just to kind of hear from them, find out what they are interested in, because I do believe that most of the problems that we have are going to be solved by you," said the former president.
Obama visited the school in part because it participates in a D.C. initiative called Empowering Males of Color. D.C. public schools launched the program in 2015 to support Latino and African-American students to help them reach their academic potential, as part of a response to a challenge from Obama's My Brother's Keeper program to help young men of color.
The visit to McKinley isn't Obama's first post-presidency public appearance to speak with students. In April, Obama made his first public speaking appearance since leaving the White House at the University of Chicago, where he spoke with students about his post-presidency priorities and what he had learned from his days as a Chicago community organizer, according to CNN.
"I'm speaking a lot of time thinking about what is the most important thing I can do for my next job," said Obama during the appearance. "The single most important thing I can do is to help in any way I can prepare the next generation of leadership, to take up the baton, and to take their own crack at changing the world."
Obama spoke about his early experience as a community organizer when he first started his career. As a 25-year-old, the former president said, he was "filled with idealism and absolute certainty that somehow," he was going to "change the world."
"But I had no idea how," Obama added. "I am the first to acknowledge that I did not set the world on fire. Nor did I transform these communities in any significant way."
He also warned students to be mindful about what they share on social media.
"If you had pictures of everything I'd done in high school, I probably wouldn't have been President of the United States," joked Obama during the event. "I would advise all of you to be a little more circumspect about your selfies and what you take pictures of."
A day earlier, Obama had come to speak at a roundtable discussion for Create Real Economic Destiny in Chicago,
a program that supports young people with job skills and connections.
"President Obama listened to the young men's stories and shared some of the challenges that he faced growing up," said Lewis of the meeting. "He expressed that he was optimistic about their potential to positively contribute to their communities and support their families because of the services provided in the program."