While national media were hyperventilating over President Barack Obama’s broadcast to school children last week, the event passed locally without much fanfare and with few students hearing the address.

Almost no children saw the president’s address live. Apart from a couple of classes that headed down to the library at Komarek School in North Riverside, students who did see the speech saw it later on in the week. Others may tune in this week or at another time in the year.

For Interim Superintendent David Bonnette at Riverside-Brookfield High School, the president’s address just didn’t make the cut for redirecting the entire student body.

“It would have to be a pretty serious kind of event to divert teachers in the classroom for a district-wide broadcast,” Bonnette said. “If it were Neil Armstrong stepping on to the moon or some significant historical event, you might divert the time and attention of the entire district.”

Not that Bonnette had a problem with the president’s message.

“Clearly the message of parents advocating for their kids and kids applying themselves, we’re communicating that on a daily basis.”

Riverside-Brookfield High School, with new facilities, was also “in the throes of the first day of school,” said Bonnette. He did not address the issue of the speech with faculty in any memorandum.

“I’ve not had any feedback that teachers individually watched it,” Bonnette said.

Bonnette’s point of view is similar to that of Mark Kuzniewski, superintendent of Brookfield-LaGrange Park District 95. Kuzniewski said that he got word of the president’s speech just before the Labor Day weekend. The school had little time to prepare for the speech.

“We made the decision early on that we were not going to stop school and have a live broadcast, particularly with the late notice and lack of notice on the contents of the speech,” Kuzniewski said.

The school did record the speech, and it was shown later to all students at Brook Park School last week. Teachers at S.E. Gross Middle School throughout the school year will use portions of the speech as it relates to the social studies curriculum, Kuzniewski said.

At Komarek School in North Riverside, Superintendent Neil Pellicci said the first he learned that the speech was even happening was from a handful of parents who called to insist their children be pulled from the classroom if the president’s talk were to be broadcast.

While the District 94 school board backed showing the speech to children at Komarek School, Pellicci said, the school physically lacked the ability to show it live in each classroom.

“The only real TV feed in the school is in the library,” Pellicci said. “One or two” classrooms made their way to the library for the speech. Other teachers, after seeing the speech themselves, have indicated an interest in showing it to their classrooms at a later date.

Pellicci said he was puzzled by the reaction of parents who reacted strongly against showing the speech.

“It’s hard to gauge where these parents were coming from,” Pellicci said. “Afterward, my feeling was that this wasn’t as big a deal as people thought.”

While some staff indicated they thought the president’s message was geared toward low-achieving districts, Pellicci said he and the board felt otherwise.

“We felt this is something every child should hear,” Pellicci said.

While District 94 will make the speech available to any teacher who wants to show the speech to a class, Pellicci said he will honor parents’ wishes if it’s shown.

“My feeling is if a parent wants to take a child out, they’re taken out,” he said.

That was also the conclusion reached in Brookfield-Lyons District 103, where it was left up to principals to decide whether to show the speech. No class saw the address live, but fourth-graders at Lincoln School in Brookfield all saw the address last week and fifth-graders are in line to see the speech. The speech will not be shown in grades K-3.

And although teachers sent letters to parents stating they could have their kids opt out of seeing the speech, none did so, according to Lincoln School Principal Kathrine McCarthy.

The issue barely caused a ripple at Congress Park School in Brookfield, said Principal Bill Ward. The school is part of LaGrange District 102, which serves the southwest quarter of Brookfield.

“We had very little contact on it at all,” Ward said.

Still Ward said that all of district’s principals agreed not to show the address schoolwide and only introduce it into the classroom if it connected with the curriculum.

“Also the age level here was a considering factor,” Ward said, saying it was geared more toward students in middle school and older.

In Riverside District 96, social studies classes at Hauser Junior High were slated to see the speech either last week or this week. Outside of the middle school, however, the only students to see the address were four classes at Ames School – three third-grade sections and one fifth-grade classroom. There are 53 elementary classrooms in District 96.

Janice Limperis, the principal of Central School in Riverside, said that the district received anywhere from three to 10 communications per school from parents asking about the speech, but that the questions were generally not politically driven.

“I’d categorize them as questions related to ‘time on task,’ ” Limperis said.