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Assisitant to the Secretary of Treasury Visits StaleyOctober, 2007)

Christal West, assistant to the Secretary of the TreasuryStaley Eighth Grade students got an insider’s look at the world of Washington D.C. from Frisco High School alumna, Christal West, who visited with them Friday, October 12.

West is the daughter of Staley counselor Gail West and a 1994 graduate of Frisco High School. She has worked in Washington D.C. in several different capacities since graduating from Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She currently works as the assistant to the Secretary of the Treasury.

“I did a lot of things in this auditorium,” she told the students, remembering her days as a cheerleader for Frisco High School. Staley Middle School is located in what was once Frisco High School. She told students she has had experiences during her nine years in Washington that “I never imagined when I was sitting in your seat,” she said.

But those memories of FHS have faded as she has had a front row seat to the nation’s recent history. She has worked for former Congressman Dick Armey and Congressman Sam Johnson. She worked in the West Wing of the White House in former Chief of Staff Andy Card’s office for a few years. In her current position she is personal assistant to the Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson.

West said that her years in Washington have made her very aware of the difficulties involved in running the country. Her years in Washington, which included being evacuated on September 11, have made her more aware of issues that involve the dealings between the Legislative Branch and the Executive Branch.

The staff and faculty at the school have followed West’s career closely. In honor of her visit, Missy Carpenter, social studies department chair, took photos collected by West’s mother and assembled a slide show to show students. Photos included West with President George Bush, Congressman Johnson, activist and performer Bono, and even a picture of herself rolling napkins and silverware with the dining steward on Air Force One. “When I was growing up we owned a restaurant and I rolled a lot of silverware. I had to show him my technique,” she said, when questioned about the picture by students.

Her job has taken her to places that for most Staley students are still just locations on a map. She has been to Camp David ; traveled to Europe, South America, China, and to her favorite sight, Number 10 Downing Street in London, England. When asked, she recalled having met Bruce Willis, Wayne Newton, B.B. King and a number of sports figures.

West took questions from the students. Some wanted to know if there were secret passages in the White House – there are not. She explained that the President has to leave his private quarters and walk through the Rose Garden to get to his office each day because there isn’t another route. “When it’s cold he wears his coat and cowboy hat,” she said.

Another student asked if the President was nice.“He is a very funny, down-to-earth, nice man,” West said.