BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Students and faculty at McKinley High School spent their Wednesday gearing up for a historic day at their school.
On Thursday morning, President Barack Obama will go to McKinley for a presidential town hall.
Principal Herman Brister got a call from the White House over the weekend. He has been a fan of the president since before his 2008 election.
"As I was beginning to have a conversation, the enormity of what was getting ready to take place hit me," Brister said.
In the days that followed, Secret Service agents began visiting the school. Meanwhile, workers set about tidying up the premises and hanging signs welcoming the nation's leader.
"We want to make sure we put our best foot forward," Brister said.
McKinley holds an important place in Louisiana history. It was the first African American high school in the state.
And while many state and local leaders have graduated from the school, the principal said he hopes the visit increases school pride.
"When you add Barack Obama, the nation's first black president into the equation, coming to this school, it kind of adds to the effect that 'Hey, this is a special place,'" Brister said.
Some of his students created art to display for the commander in chief. They also ordered him his own McKinley football jersey, complete with the number 44 representing the his role as the 44th president.
Many students and faculty said they are still overwhelmed that the president is coming to their school.
"I thought it was fake, I thought they were lying to us," said senior Jared Jones.
"I was shocked, I thought it was fake, I thought it was just a rumor," said freshman Kureyus Williams.
"The first thing I said was that can't be true," said Tasmin Williams, the school's football coach and Physical Education teacher. "Excited, excited, can't wait until tomorrow."
"We are all excited," said senior Precious Johnson. "I was not one of the lucky ones to get the ticket to be in there, but I'm still happy because we get to watch the livestream from class and we actually get to be on the same campus as him and I think that's amazing."
"Our school is blessed to be in this situation, and we're going to level in the moment and use this as a springboard to continue to grow our school," said Brister.
All in all, 20 students received tickets for Thursday's event during a lunch-time raffle. The hundreds of other students not selected will still get to participate.
They will watch a livestream of the town hall in their classrooms.