Make History!

From the Cuban Missile Crisis to the Presidential Libraries, the Situation Room has a rich history. Now you can be part of that history!

Information

About the Experience

In 2006, President George W. Bush directed the White House Situation Room be renovated and updated. The historic Situation Room was used by nine sitting Presidents including President Ronald Reagan. The existing Situation Room complex was removed and two of the key rooms - the Main Conference Room and the Secure Video Transmission Site - were preserved and reinstalled at the George W. Bush and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Libraries.

These profoundly significant rooms provide an exceptional educational opportunity for students who will form teams to assume the roles of the Executive Office of the President and the President’s Cabinet in order to manage a constitutional crisis. Fellow classmates will take on the parts of key news media members scrambling to cover the story as it unfolds before them. Participating students must work together in a high stakes environment to examine a multitude critical sources and make important decisions about developing events.

This award-winning 21st century educational experience is aligned with national and state standards for high school.

Watch the Promo

  • The Situation Room Experience Trailer

  • The Situation Room Short Promotional Video

History

How many of you have heard of the Situation Room? Not Wolf Blitzer’s evening CNN newscast, but a nerve-center of information for the President of the United States. Created by the Kennedy Administration in 1961, the "Sit Room" serves as a conference facility, processing center for secure communications, hub of intelligence gathering, and center for emergency operations. Staffed by men and women from the Department of Homeland Security, intelligence community, and military, all are committed to ensuring that the President of the United States has all the information and intelligence he needs to do his job.

The Situation Room is located on the Ground Floor of the West Wing of the White House. It is in close proximity to the President’s Oval Office. It is a highly secure facility, both physically and from electronic surveillance. The Main Conference Room and Secure Video Transmission Site you will be visiting was the actual conference room and command center that was in use for over 40 years until there was a major upgrade of the facility beginning in 2006. The National Archives and Records Administration is pleased to have its visitors experience the feeling of attending a meeting in this special room that was the focus of so many important meetings during some of America’s greatest crises.

Months after being sworn into office, President John F. Kennedy was confronted with the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion in Cuba and insisted that intelligence information feed directly into the White House rather than coming through a variety of national defense departments.

The Situation Room was established in May of 1961 by National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy to meet President Kennedy’s request. To create space for the Situation Room, President Truman’s bowling alley was removed. President Kennedy ordered that every department of defense sector must feed their information to the Situation Room 24 hours a day. In the early days, a single CIA intelligence analyst worked a 20-hour shift in the Situation Room, sleeping there on a cot through the night.

Each President has used the Situation Room in different ways. Kennedy spent most the of his time during the Cuban Missile Crisis either in the Oval Office or in the Cabinet Room, though he would venture down to the Situation Room to read teletype. President Lyndon Johnson used the Situation Room so frequently during the Vietnam War that he left his chair from the Oval Office in the room. Presidents Nixon and Ford rarely used the Situation Room. Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton , and George W. Bush used it often.

In 2006, the Situation Room went under a massive renovation to include the Homeland Security Council and the White House chief of staff’s office. Tying together a half-century of history, President Obama renamed a secure conference room of the Situation Room on May 13, 2011 after President Kennedy. The president's daughter Caroline Kennedy attended, along with grandson, John "Jack" Schlossberg.

The older Main Conference Room and Secure Video Transmission Site you will use served the country well for over 40 years. What is historically important, of course, is not the paneling or the furniture, but instead the significant events and decisions discussed in this room by the most senior leaders in the country.

https://www.jfklibrary.org/JFK/JFK-Legacy/Situation-Room.aspx

In the News

Read press articles about the Situation Room Experience from local media in California and Texas.

  • California Press

    New Interactive Program Gives Students In Ventura County Taste Of White House Decision Making

    KCLU's Lance Orozco reports on a new, interactive program at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley which gives high school, and college students a taste of the White House decision making process, called "The Situation Room Experience."

    Diplomacy in Training

    The "Situation Room Experience” at the Reagan Library offers students a view of what it's like to be at the core of a crisis at the White House.

    Reagan Library’s Situation Room Experience gives students taste of a ‘crisis’

    What would it be like to be in a high-stakes global crisis – a “situation”? Some students got a look on Thursday as they visited the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.

    Students act out a global crisis at Reagan Library

    A global crisis was unfolding in real time: The president of the United States had been shot, chaos was ensuing — and it was up to 28 Simi Valley High School students to take command of the situation.

    Tackling a national emergency

    Reagan Library's Situation Room puts students to the test.

    Students learn to deal with ‘what if?’

    Students from Alta Loma High School in Rancho Cucamonga meet in the“ situation room” Sept. 29 to handle a mock emergency involving an assassination attempt on the president. The Situation Room Experience is the Reagan Library’s newest interactive exhibit that pushes high school and college-age students to make tough decisions.

  • Texas Press

    Dallas’ Bush library to team with Reagan counterpart on Situation Room

    The George W. Bush Presidential Library and the California library will give students a taste of leading during crisis.

    The White House Situation Room, Rebuilt In Dallas

    It’s one of the most mysterious rooms in the White House: The Situation Room. And the public has almost never seen it, save for a couple of snapshots from the mission that killed Osama Bin Laden. Now, that iconic room has been rebuilt in Dallas -- inside the new George W. Bush Presidential Center, which will be dedicated Thursday.

    Bush Center Partnership Yields Executive Experience For Parish Students

    Not many high school students can say they’ve sat in a presidential “situation room,” but some students at Parish Episcopal School can check that off their lists.

    Parish Students learn about crisis management

    The scene inside the Situation Room was tense: the President of the United States had been shot, the gunman was unknown and the information was sketchy at best; the stock market was tanking, Americans were demanding answers and members of the Presidents’ cabinet were trying to make good decisions while under extreme pressure.

    What's it like to be president? Kids can find out

    A solemn group gathers in the White House Situation Room, the wood-paneled nerve center of presidential predicaments since the days of John F. Kennedy. A crisis is afoot. There are no easy answers. A decision needs to be made - and fast.
    But these decision-makers aren't national security officials. They are schoolchildren. And the windowless room isn't in Washington. It's a reconstruction of the actual Situation Room, which was transformed into a high-tech classroom at the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

    Putting students in the same Situation Room

    A reconstruction of George W. Bush's actual White House Situation Room has long been planned as a signature, interactive element of his presidential center set to open on Southern Methodist University's campus next spring. But officials with the National Archives and Records Administration are now revealing that the center's version of the famed crisis management complex - key to all presidential calamities since the days of John F. Kennedy - will have a reach well beyond Dallas.