Hoyer discusses civic engagement with Thomas Stone students
House minority whip discusses role, inspiration in politics
Government students at Thom- as Stone High School received a lesson in civic engagement this week from their congressman, U.S. Representative Steny Hoyer (D-Md., 5th).
Principal Chr ystal Benson said having Hoyer visit the Waldorf school was a wonderful opportu- nity for her students.
“It’s not every day when your congressman comes to your school, and this gave students an opportunity to have conversations with him and see what his typical day is like, and to get an inside view of what government and politics is like,” Benson said.
Hoyer visited the school Tuesday afternoon at the request of Ronald Helm, a social studies teacher at Stone.
Helm said, coming from a journalism background before becoming a teacher, he thought it would be a good opportunity for his students to meet their congressional representative.
“I had worked around government, and so I thought it would be a good resource for the students to actually get to meet some of these leaders,” Helm said.
Helm said he contacted Hoyer’s office three years ago to
arrange a visit.
“Three years is not bad, as busy as his schedule is. For him to take time to speak to our kids, is in- credible,” Helm said.
Hoyer toured the school with Benson, Superinten- dent Kimberly Hill and other school officials, vis- iting a classroom in the school’s Project Lead the Way Biomedical program and speaking with students.
Hoyer then visited the school auditorium, where he spoke with ninth grade students in the Local, State and National Government class, students in the AP Government and Politics class, staff and members of the school’s Parent Teacher Organization.
Hoyer discussed his own education, and how a speech by then-U.S. presidential candidate John F. Kennedy at the University of Maryland College Park in the spring of 1959 con- vinced him to change his major.
“As I sat there … I said, I want to get involved, I want to make a differ- ence,” Hoyer said.
Hoyer told his audience the country has never been more deeply divided since the U.S. Civil War, with vast disagreements between people of differ- ent political affiliations and almost no “meeting of the minds.”
“The meeting of the minds is the creation of a consen- sus, which in a democracy allows for constructive, forward movement. That’s what civic engagement is all about,” Hoyer said. “Ameri- ca will succeed to the extent that we bridge those differ- ences.”
Hoyer stressed the im- portance of education in learning to become in- formed, engaged citizens.
“Do you want to get the ‘A’? Sure, but the reason you study is not to get the ‘A,’ it is to know the information that will make your civic engagement, whether it’s with your family, your community, your county, or your state, or with your country, be- cause all of you will be in- terfacing globally. We live in a global village,” Hoyer said. “Your civic engage- ment with your country will determine how suc- cessful that village will be in the course of your life- time.”
Hoyer then took submitted questions, read by moderator Tania Harris, president of the school’s Student Government As- sociation and an intern in Hoyer’s Waldorf office. Hoyer then spoke with students afterwards.
Hoyer said visiting schools and meeting with students is an educational experience.
“Number one, I learn from them,” Hoyer said. “To see them, to see the positive things they’re doing, so I can relay that to other people, and I like to think that I give them some sense that politicians, Congressmen, are not just someone you don’t know; they’re somebody’s who’s your neighbor, somebody who’s been through a lot of the same experiences you’ve been through and somebody you can relate to. I think that’s important, because too often they get a jaded view of politics and politicians.”
Congressman Steny Hoyer speaks with Thomas Stone High School’s Project Lead the Way Biomedical students Teyonna Harley and Zion Huntley.
Congressman Steny Hoyer speaks with students at Thomas Stone High School Tuesday.
Rep. Steny Hoyer speaks with Charles County Superintendent Kimberly Hill during a visit to Thomas Stone High School Tuesday.
Congressman Steny Hoyer takes questions from student moderator Tania Harris, president of Thomas Stone High School’s Student Government Association, during a visit to the school Tuesday.
Congressman Steny Hoyer speaks with his Thomas Stone High School Junior ROTC escorts Alzandra Williams Jr. and Igura Rehman and Principal Chrystal Benson, right.
Congressman Steny Hoyer speaks with Thomas Stone students who have interned in his office, Tania Harris, Tayana Metcalf and London Drake.