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Michael Reagan Bringing International Student Exchange Program to Santa Barbara

Cross-country tour will stop Wednesday at former President Ronald Reagan's Rancho del Cielo

Michael Reagan and the Reagan Legacy Foundation continue an exciting year of activities in celebration of Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday with the Liberty Education Tours, a student exchange program that provides American and European students a unique opportunity to study the history of freedom and liberty around the world while visiting significant historical sites.

This year, students will trace Reagan’s steps to becoming one of the most prominent figures in world history.

The students are from Poland, the Czech Republic, Cleveland, Ga., and the Los Angeles area. Four of the students are from the After-School All-Stars of Los Angeles, a nonprofit organization that provides learning and leadership programs for inner-city youth.

“It gives me a great deal of pride to personally share the vision my father had for our nation and world with this select group of high school students who will one day be leaders themselves,” Michael Reagan said.

Michael Reagan is the eldest son of Ronald Reagan and is the founder and president of the Reagan Legacy Foundation.

“This year is especially meaningful because it is the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth, and we are honoring his memory by teaching young people the importance of individual freedom, liberty and democracy, which are American values my father held so dear,” he said.”

The tour began Aug. 1 in Washington, D.C., where the students participated in the 2011 National Conservative Student Conference hosted by Young America’s Foundation, a national nonprofit organization that seeks to inspire youth in the ideas of individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise and traditional values.

There they met with national political leaders including Sens. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah, and Reps. Allen West of Floria and Jim Jordan of Ohio. Also speaking at the conference were prominent conservative figures Ann Coulter; Tim Goeglein, vice president of Focus on the Family; Dinesh D’Souza, president of King’s College and author; Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause; Marc Thiessen, top speechwriter for President George W. Bush; Robert George of Princeton University; Jason Mattera, editor of Human Events; and columnist Jonah Goldberg.

The next stop was Illinois, where Ronald Reagan was born and reared. On Saturday, students were special guests of the Chicago Cubs when they played the Cincinnati Reds in an afternoon game at Wrigley Field. Michael Reagan and his family threw out the first pitch as part of the Cubs’ Ronald Reagan Day celebration. Students toured Reagan’s birthplace in Tampico, boyhood home in Dixon and the Ronald Reagan Museum at his alma mater, Eureka College.

The tour wraps up in California, where on Wednesday students will get a rare look at Reagan’s beloved Santa Barbara ranch, Rancho del Cielo, which served as the Western White House during his presidency. The ranch was the site of several significant events, including the 1981 signing ceremony for the Economic Recovery Tax Act. The tour will conclude at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. The library is the repository of presidential records for President Reagan’s administration and holds more than 60 million pages of documents, more than 1.6 million photographs, 500,000 feet of motion picture film, tens of thousands of audio and video tape, and more than 40,000 artifacts. Reagan was buried there in 2004.

A special graduation ceremony will be held at the presidential library on Friday, where Michael Reagan will present each student with the Reagan Legacy Foundation Freedom Fellow Award.

The Liberty Education Tours are open to American and European high school students with at least one year remaining of their secondary education and a minimum grade point average of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale. The program is made possible through the generosity of corporate and individual sponsors.

— Faye Eson represents the Reagan Legacy Foundation.

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