facebook-pixel

Snapshots: A quick look at Jill Biden’s visit to Utah

The first lady spent a little more than three hours in Utah. Here’s what she said and did.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Ilai Kaufusi presents first lady Jill Biden with a traditional lei at Glendale Middle School in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 5, 2021.

Here are snapshots of first lady Jill Biden’s three hours in Salt Lake City on Wednesday:

1:39 p.m. — Arrival

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) From left, Gov. Spencer Cox and Utah first lady Abby Cox welcome U.S. first lady Jill Biden at Salt Lake City International Airport, Wednesday, May 5, 2021.

As Biden reached the tarmac, she was greeted by Gov. Spencer Cox and first lady Abby Cox. They exchanged pleasantries before Abby Cox handed her a small paper bag containing a gift. White House staffers opened it near reporters, and it appeared to be a gold bracelet with small beehives on it. Beehives are Utah’s state emblem.

Biden then had quick one-on-one chats with Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, and Reps. Chris Stewart, Blake Moore and Burgess Owens.

Seven minutes after leaving the plane, she was in a motorcade headed to Glendale Middle School.

1:57 p.m. — Visiting with students

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) First lady Jill Biden, Abby Cox, and Rep. Chris Stewart visit the Ukelele Club at Glendale Middle School in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 5, 2021.

Nervous students played with their ukuleles as they wanted for Biden to arrive. She walked in at 2:06 p.m., saying “It’s so great to see you.”

About a dozen students, many who were beginners, soon turned their attention to the screen, where they followed a YouTube video of “House of Gold” by Twenty One Pilots. They strummed quickly and sang along. The first lady tapped her foot as she stood in the front of the class with Abby Cox and Stewart.

Teacher Dane Hess introduced Eli Kaufusi, a student, who presented Biden with a purple lei.

Hess accompanied Biden as she visited another class, where seven students waited behind plastic dividers to show her their individual posters. Students at Glendale Middle School make posters in the sixth grade. They include their picture and a saying that they choose.

Jax Stenholm was the first to share his poster. His said, “I am Jax. I am a supportive friend. I want you to know that you can do anything you set your mind to.”

Stewart asked what he wanted to do for a living, and Stenholm said he’d like to be an architect.

After hearing from five other students, Biden said she’d like to share her own statement. A staffer cleared a portion of the whiteboard and she took a marker, writing, “I am Jill. I am a mother, a nana, a teacher… who believes all students can SOAR!”

2:51 p.m. — Thanking teachers

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) First lady Jill Biden speaks to teachers at Glendale Middle School in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 5, 2021.

Biden walked into the commons area, where about 50 teachers, along with some elected officials, sat on distanced chairs. She spoke for about 10 minutes, thanking teachers during National Teacher Appreciation Week. She acknowledged that the year was difficult. “There have been losses that we will never get back: loss of time with each other, loss of learning and loss of so many.”

And she promised that her husband’s administration would invest in teachers.

3:23 p.m. — Vaccination clinic

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Mayra Cedano, Executive Director of Comunidades Unidas welcomes first lady Jill Biden as she visits a pop-up COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Jordan Park on Salt Lake City’s west side on Wednesday, May 5, 2021, during her quick visit to Utah as part of a three-state tour.

The motorcade arrived at nearby Jordan Park, where a pop-up clinic had been set up, a collaboration of state Rep. Angela Romero, Comunidades Unidas and the Salt Lake County Health Department.

Volunteers in red shirts, spaced 6 feet apart, welcomed her in Spanish and English. A few then shared stories with her, asking her to support immigration reform. Biden also talked to people getting the Pfizer vaccine and to those who organized the effort.

“It feels,” she said, “like we have hope again.”

3:55 p.m. — Thanking first responders

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) First lady Jill Biden thanks UHP Major Tyler Kotter before leaving Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 5, 2021.

Before getting back on the plane, Biden, still wearing a face mask, posed for quick photos with police chiefs, sheriffs, fire chiefs and other first responders. Within five minutes, she walked up the plane’s steps, turned, gave a final wave and walked inside. The jet taxied away at 4 p.m., headed to Las Vegas for her next stop on this two-day tour of the West.

Return to Story