LISBON — Open Door Christian Academy students said Monday they learned a lot from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s rally at their school.

For one thing, his hair looks much better in person than it does on television, where it sometimes looks like he’s wearing a guinea pig on his head, sophomore Samantha Shaw said.

For another, senior William Job said, Trump is taller than he anticipated.

But one thing half a dozen high school students agreed on is that seeing Trump in person made them like him better.

“He walked in and he was just a man,” sophomore Hannah Newton said.

“It didn’t seem like he was above everyone else” or acting as if he was anyone special, Shaw said.

Trump “was happy to be here” rather than giving off the sense that he felt “stuck in a church” with better things to do, Newton said.

The students said that Trump, a man who’s spent a lifetime seeking celebrity, struck them, to their surprise, as humble.

Part of what made him seem so real, so human is that he came to their tiny school in their small town and stood on a platform in their gymnasium and talked to them, the students said.

Senior Mackenzie Cook called it “an incredible opportunity for all of us” and “a huge deal” for students and the community to have one of the two major White House contenders pay a visit just days before the Nov. 8 election.

Cook said that when Trump walked into the room Friday, “the energy was through the roof” among the 1,000 people who filled the gym. The students said they were screaming, waving signs and ecstatic to see the presidential hopeful right in front of them.

“It was extremely educational for us” to see Trump in person rather than just as a figure on TV or as a character in a book, said senior Arielle Cox. She said she felt proud “that he would think about us” at all when he has the whole country to choose from.

The school’s principal, Tim Foster, said he felt “proud of our kids” for their interest in the rally and the way they took in everything they could from it.

“I enjoyed this opportunity for our school,” he said, a moment that put his 103-student private academy in the limelight.

The students said they were glad the rally came off so smoothly, with no disruptions or problems beyond the rain outside and a weather-related delay in the candidate’s arrival.

They said they heard rumors that Trump might come, but Hunter Job, a sophomore, said he didn’t believe the talk until Foster interrupted a teacher to tell everyone the GOP nominee would hold a rally at the school.

“We were all not going back to class after that,” Shaw said.

The students said they liked talking with Secret Service and campaign staffers as they got everything ready for a couple of days. They said everyone they met was extremely nice.

“Nobody acted like they were all that,” Hunter Job said.

“It was just an incredible opportunity to be there and see it and watch it happen and how they made it all come together,” Cook said.

One moment at the rally stood out, the students said: when a few of them led the crowd in singing the national anthem.

Newton called it “a uniting factor” that people could all get behind whether they liked Trump or not.

“Whoever they supported, they support America,” she said. “It’s amazing to see people come together like that.”

Shaw said, “We all want to see our country prosper.”

They said one lesson they’ll take away from the rally is how important it is to hear from candidates directly instead of accepting versions of events from media sources that may not be fair or tell the whole story.

Hearing “straight from him” made a difference, Hunter Job said.

Cook said she knows the students at the academy are not the same as many of her contemporaries.

“Our generation has gone, like, crazy,” she said. But at the Lisbon school “we have different values than the world does. We want to lift God up.”

“We have more morals,” Shaw said. “We know what’s right.”

Newton added that nobody should think they’re all brainwashed, however. “The teachers here give us both sides” and tell students they need to make decisions for themselves, she said.

“You still have the freedom to think what you want,” Shaw said.

The students said they’ve heard stories that cast Trump in a negative light, especially his treatment of women and his crude language.

But they were forgiving. Shaw said everyone is a sinner. “We all do dumb things,” Hunter Job said.

Shaw said that given how depressing world events have been, it’s nice to see “there is hope for the future” if Trump wins and does what he promises.

Even if Trump comes up short, however, the students said they’ll accept it as God’s will.

Newton said the Bible insists that God holds the hands of kings and that all of them are flawed.

“We have to keep a solid head about it,” Newton said. “We have to trust God.”

The students were also happy that the event gave them a chance for an unanticipated concession stand that brought in $1,000 in profit for a still-unplanned senior trip. Cox said people were generous in paying for items during the rally.


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