8th Grader’s Dream Visit to Washington, D.C.

As Congresswoman Barbara Lee prepared to speak at a recent concert, she was approached by 14-year-old Stephen Devon Horsley, who said simply, “Thank you, for helping me go to Washington,” before returning quickly to his seat. Surprised, Lee turned to her assistant. “I never get to speak to the people we help,” she said, smiling. It has been Horsley’s dream to go Washington D.C. and meet President Obama. He previously wrote two letters to Obama asking if he could play the piano for him. A student of piano for seven years, he attends Pinole Middle School and lives in Richmond.  He met Congresswoman Lee at a piano recital by Leon Bates, after finding out about the host organization, Four Seasons Arts, from his music teacher Jo Carol Harris. Horsley is a member of Four Season’s Family Plan Program, which is supported by Ernest Clark, Oakland realtor. Last fall, Horsley’s 8th grade history teacher told the class that Pinole Middle School would be participating in the annual Spirit of 76’er’s tour to Washington. He wanted to go, but the cost for each child was about $1600, beyond what his mother could afford. He gave a piano recital, collecting contributions from the audience, and his friends and neighbors gave him recyclable items, which he gathered and sold. Plans were in place for the group, sponsored by retired teacher Tim Shaw, to travel to Washington, D.C. to visit historical sites, including the White House. Suddenly, there was glitch. Word came back that because of security problems and the requirement to secure permission six month in advance, it would not be possible to visit the White House. Harriett Jones, a music teacher, wrote Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s Office to ask for her help. With the Congresswoman’s intervention, arrangements were made for the group to visit the White House. The group of a 40 eighth graders flew to Washington February for a tour that included the White House. “It was a great experience,” said Horsley, who returned home with memories he will never forget.  
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