LLCC student gets first White House tour after 9/11

Austin Sanderfield, Lamp Staff

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Kala Grigg was at volleyball practice on a Tuesday morning in 2001. The eighth-grader from Aurora said it was interrupted when the coach came into the gym to tell the players that the World Trade Center had been hit by an airplane.

The practice stopped, and we went to our first-hour class to watch what was happening, the current Lincoln Land student said.

Unlike many Lincoln Land students, some of whom weren’t even born yet, Grigg has a vivid recall of the day, and she also got to play a role in history. Grigg was one of the first people to tour the White House once it reopened to tourists months later.

Grigg said she was selected by House Speaker Dennis Hastert, whose congressional district represented her hometown, to take a special private tour of the White House the day before it reopened to the public.

There were 24 seventh and eighth grade students selected for the special tour.

It was like an ordinary White House tour, Grigg said, except the young visitors got to meet President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush.

Not many people can say they personally met with the president, Grigg said.

“I believe I was chosen because (I was the) No. 1 female student in my class in regards to academics,” Grigg said.