Malia and Sasha to join elite student body at Sidwell Friends

By A. James Memmott

November 24, 2008 at 6:46am

Hillary Clinton to State; Timothy F. Geithner to Treasury; Malia and Sasha to Sidwell Friends School.

Washington got some answers to its transition questions last week, not the least of which was where Barack and Michelle Obama would send their two daughters to school.

It was announced Friday that they had chosen Sidwell, a school accustomed to educating the sons and daughters of presidents and other luminaries.

Sasha, 7, a second-grader, will attend Sidwell’s lower school in Bethesda, Md. Annual tuition for the lower school is $28,442

Her sister Malia, 10, a fifth-grader, will enroll in Sidwell’s middle school on the campus in Northwest Washington where the annual tuition is $29,442.

“A number of great schools were considered,” a spokesman for Michelle Obama said, as reported in The Washington Post. “In the end, the Obamas selected the school that was the best fit for what their daughters need right now.”

The Obamas had also looked at Georgetown Country Day, the Post reported. And they considered Maret School, but did not visit there, according to reports.

Michelle Rhee, the superintendent of Washington’s public schools, as well as Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty, also talked to the Obamas about their school choice, the Post reported.

The Obama girls are currently attending the private University of Chicago Laboratory Schools.

The Post suggested that the Obamas may have selected Sidwell, which has about 1,100 students, because it has experience with the security and privacy issues that surround the presence of children of high-profile parents at the school.

In addition, three granddaughters of Sen. Joe Biden, the vice-president-elect, attend Sidwell. Malia Obama is friends with at least one of these girls, the Post reported.

The Biden grandchildren, Maisy, 8, Finnegan, 10, and Naomi, 14, are the children of Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.

The last presidential offspring to attend Sidwell was Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton who graduated in 1997.

Both of Richard Nixon’s daughters attended Sidwell before he became president. Tricia Nixon Cox, graduated in 1964. Her sister, now Julie Nixon Eisenhower, attended Sidwell but graduated elsewhere.

Former Vice President Al Gore’s son, Albert Gore III, graduated from Sidwell in 2001.

The Quaker school’s other notable alumni include ABC-News anchor Charles Gibson, Ana Gasteyer, a former “Saturday Night Live” regular, and Hanna Holborn Gray, former University of Chicago president.

The list of people who attended Sidwell but did not graduate from the school includes former First Lady Nancy Reagan, authors Gore Vidal and John Dos Passos, and aviator Charles Lindbergh.

The Obamas are likely to bump into a wide variety of Washington’s elite at Sidwell open houses.

Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton’s controversial pollster and a person not liked by the Obama campaign during for the Democratic primaries, has children at Sidwell.

Daniel H. Mudd, the former CEO and president of Fannie Mae, is a Sidwell graduate and member of the school’s board of trustees.

Maxine Isaacs, a former aide to Walter Mondale when he was a senator and when he was vice president, is also on the Sidwell board.

She’s married to James Johnson, another former Fannie Mae chairman who briefly served as one of the leaders of Obama’s vice-presidential search team. He left the post after his former connection to Fannie Mae became controversial.

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