SAMOHI — High school graduations tend to involve lengthy speeches and a lot of name calling, but two Santa Monica High School seniors are plotting something a bit more grandiose.
Nikki Bell and Sam Modabber, both 17, have extended an invitation to President Barack Obama himself.
The leader of the free world is expected to be in Santa Monica on June 7 attending a fundraiser at the home of entertainment executive Peter Chernin, responsible for such television as FOX’s “New Girl” and the recent post-apocalyptic thriller “Oblivion.” The girls hope to cajole Obama into a cameo at the high school’s 100th graduation ceremony, which will be held in the Greek Theater at 5 p.m. that day.
“It seemed like he was so close,” Modabber said. “Any kind of response would make the 100th graduating class of Samohi that much more special.”
Their campaign, hash-tagged “Get Obama to the Greek,” took form over the weekend as the pair wrote, shot and edited the 1:47-minute clip that garnered almost 2,000 views on YouTube by 3:30 p.m. Monday.
In the video, Bell and Modabber appear wearing Samohi paraphernalia against the backdrop of the American flag, trading lines offering the date, time and place that they hope the president will appear.
The video then transitions to clips of Samohi students describing the school’s accomplishments in sports and academic competitions as well as the students’ actions in standing up for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community against members of the ultra-conservative Westboro Baptist Church in February.
Bell and Modabber did most of their filming on an iPhone in about two hours on Friday, May 31 while students were still on campus. Many of the people who appear in the video are friends of theirs, but others are strangers.
“A couple we randomly walked up to and asked,” Bell said.
“It was scary,” Modabber chimed in, similar to their performance on the video.
The remainder of the footage came together in three hours at a private home, and the editing, accomplished on iMovie, took another hour.
The video went live on Sunday afternoon, and spread quickly through the Samohi community on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, all connected by the #GetObamatotheGreek tag.
The mission has already attracted media attention, popping up on local news stations and websites. A representative from Carson Daly’s morning show on 97.1 AMP radio reached out to the two girls through YouTube comments as well — Daly is one of Samohi’s celebrity alumni.
When Laurie Lieberman, president of the Board of Education, heard about the attempt, she was all for it.
“What a fantastic and inspirational idea,” Lieberman said. “Kudos to our wonderful students for seizing the moment and going for it. I will do whatever I can to help get their request to President Obama.”
Not everyone has been so supportive, particularly those who take issue with Obama’s politics and policies.
“Why would you kids want such a hateful evil petty man and a horribly bad leader to speak to you?” wrote YouTube commenter cheongyei.
At least one protest against the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil from the Alberta oil sands in Canada to the United States, is already planned for his time in Santa Monica.
The girls expected some blowback, and they recognize how thin their chances are of a presidential appearance at their event, but they had to try.
“When we originally had the idea for this, we were like, what if no one views it? People think we’re crazy,” Bell said. “But it’s senior year, we have a week left of school, we decided to just do it.”