Obama delivered the noontime speech from a high school in Arlington, Virginia.
Many conservatives over the past week had expressed a fear that the president's address would be used to push a partisan political agenda. In the text of the speech posted Monday on the White House Web site, however, Obama avoided any mention of controversial political initiatives. He repeatedly urged students to work hard and stay in school.
"No matter what you want to do with your life, I guarantee that you'll need an education to do it," he said.
"This isn't just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country."
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