Alabama’s First Lady visits county elementary schools

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Third graders at Pike County Elementary School and Banks Primary School had a very important visitor on Wednesday.

Alabama First Lady Dianne Bentley visits with Banks  student  Gage Horn Wednesday.

Alabama First Lady Dianne Bentley visits with Banks student Gage Horn Wednesday.

And, they felt very important themselves because it’s not often that someone as notable as Alabama’s First Lady visits the school, said Anita Grant, PCES principal.

“We are very honored and excited to have Alabama First Lady Dianne Bentley visit our school,” Grant said. “I think this is the first time a First Lady has visited our school so this is a very special occasion for us.”

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Bentley read to the students at both schools.

Alabama’s First Lady chose, “The Marshmallow Incident” by popular children’s author, Judi Barrett, to read to the third-graders at PCES and “Night in the Barn” by Faye Gibbons for the students at Banks Primary.

“Faye Gibbons is an Alabama author and I like to promote Alabama authors and I like to promote Alabama,” Bentley told the students. “And, I love to learn more about Alabama.”

She took time to talk to the students about what it’s like to be Alabama’s First Lady and the Governor’s wife.

“I’m the Governor’s helper,” she said. “My husband wants more jobs for Alabama and we have dinners and other events that will help us get those jobs. I help him with those events.”

Bentley said that, as First Lady, she has an agenda and that is reading.

“I love children and I want to encourage children to read,” she said. “I enjoy reading myself.”

In response to a student’s question, Bentley said that being the First Lady was, at first, “overwhelming.”

“I didn’t know what to do but, I’ve been the First Lady for three years and I know more,” she said. “I’ve gotten to travel with my husband, the Governor, and we’ve been to London, France, Germany and South Korea. I’ve learned a lot from those travels.”

Bentley talked to the children about living in Montgomery, the state’s capital city.

She told them that her husband, Gov. Robert Bentley, works at the capitol building on Dexter Avenue and they live in the Governor’s Mansion on Perry Street.

“Some people think that we are rich because we live in a mansion,” Bentley said. “But, the mansion is not our house. It belongs to the people of Alabama.”

She told the students that they can tour the Governor’s Mansion on certain days if prior arrangements have been made.

Bentley said the mansion is a large house with a big yard with many camellias, which are the state flower.

“What the children who visit the mansion like the most is the swimming pool, which is shaped like the state of Alabama,” she said.

The students had many questions for Alabama’s First Lady. Many of her answers surprised the children but none as much as the answer to “How much money do you make?”

“There are a lot of people who don’t have jobs,” Bentley said in response. “When Gov. Bentley was elected, he promised that he would not take any money until the unemployment is zero. So, we work for free.”

Bentley visited the Pike County elementary schools at the invitation of Donna Horn, whose daughter, Angie Horn Stalnaker, is the Governor’s political consultant, and whose grandson, Gage Horn, is a third-grader at Banks Primary School.