Fort Worth students to spend a special Easter holiday at the White House

FORT WORTH -- Alena "Laney" De Leon is ready to let everyone at the White House know just why Texas is known as the friendship state.

The charming 7-year-old wants to meet everyone she can, especially President Barack Obama and -- fingers crossed -- the first dog, Bo.

Laney, a first-grader at Como Montessori in Fort Worth, is one of two Fort Worth students invited to the White House for the annual Easter Egg Roll. Kiauntae Martin, a first-grader at Harlean Beal Elementary, will also attend.

Laney plans to wear a new dress with a Texas theme -- most likely bluebonnets -- so there is no doubt she's from the Lone Star State.

"I'm excited to represent Texas," Laney said. "I want everybody to know I'm from Texas, because it's a good state. I'm very happy for this opportunity."

Laney was nominated to attend by a family friend who lives in the Washington area, her parents said. Children are selected by a lottery system for the event, which has been held at the White House since 1878, in which they roll Easter eggs across the lawn and partake in other activities.

Her mom, Frances, said Laney has been studying up for her trip by reading various children's books on the White House, Obama and particularly those about Bo (who, by the way, is also from Texas).

Kiauntae's father, Brandon Martin, who is stationed at Fort Hood, was one of 100 soldiers selected to attend the event. With his father away with the Army most of the time, Kiauntae is very much looking forward to the long car ride from Texas to D.C. with just him and his dad, the boy said.

He's been practicing rolling eggs in his grandmother's back yard, and so far none have cracked. He can't wait to meet the first family.

"I want to tell the president that he's doing a good job and that Mrs. Obama is pretty and smart," said Kiauntae, who said he hopes to get a picture of himself with the Obamas' daughters, Sasha, 8, and Malia, 11.

This year's event will be Monday with a "Ready, Set, Go!" theme emphasizing health and fitness and coinciding with the first lady's "Let's Move" campaign to fight childhood obesity.

EVA-MARIE AYALA, 817-390-7700