New Albany News

New Albany High School

Students savor visit from Kearns Goodwin


Several New Albany High School students said presidential historian and author Doris Kearns Goodwin might be their favorite visiting speaker so far.

Kearns Goodwin spoke to students from New Albany, Gahanna Lincoln and Licking Heights high schools and Columbus Academy on May 20 at the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts.

"I like how she was different than lots of other speakers," said sophomore Chloe Sekulovski, 16.

Sekulovski said Kearns Goodwin didn't just give facts about Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the subjects of some of her books. Instead, she talked about their life experiences.

"She knew the presidents' more personal side, not their political side, which gave her a better view of them as president," said sophomore Kiana Khorrami, 16.

Sophomore Megan Breen, 16, agreed.

"It was cool, her insight (into) the personal lives of famous people," Breen said.

Sophomore Alena Shouman, 16, said Kearns Goodwin was personable, not too formal and she did a good job connecting with the students.

"She was thoughtful and influential and taught us through her experience of learning and being influenced by presidents," Shouman said.

Kearns Goodwin delighted the students with stories of Lincoln's storytelling, Teddy Roosevelt's famous "walks" with dignitaries -- which included everything from rock climbing to nearly naked swims -- and FDR's nightly cocktail hours in which guests could talk about anything but World War II.

Kearns Goodwin said she chose her subjects because all three have the following in common: all were motivated under pressure and all overcame physical or mental challenges during their careers; all surrounded themselves with enemies or challengers; all possessed an emotional intelligence and found ways to stay connected with their constituents; all found ways to relax; and all knew how to speak to constituents in a language everyone could understand.

Kearns Goodwin said she hoped the students were inspired to get involved in politics.

She said she also hoped the students learned about previous leaders' struggles and their triumphs, which could encourage the students to think about adversity and how they would respond to it.

Her visit was sponsored by the New Albany Community Foundation, through the Ellen and David Ryan Fund.